Gasparilla generosity part II: Toys, shoes and checks for a good cause

December 11, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON- As we circle back to the generous hearts of Boca Grande, we are reminded of the $20,000 donation by a gracious member of the Lighthouse United Methodist Church of Boca Grande and its congregation.
Barbara Evans accepted the donation on behalf of the Harry Chapin Food Bank on Monday, Dec. 7. The donation honored Nick and Helen Kaiser, founders of the Taste of Boca Grande. The pair was able to sit in virtually and partake in the joyous offer.
The church plans to continue to work with local food banks and organizations to make the season a little brighter.
With the holidays quickly approaching, children are eager to open the gifts they’ve eagerly awaited all year. These smiling faces are often made possible by local toy drives, including Kids’ Needs of Greater Englewood Inc. The nonprofit organization collects donations for local children to provide them with essentials like clothing, hygiene products and school supplies. It also raises funds to send children to summer camp.
Bella Vida Boca Grande is one of many local businesses collecting donations for Kids’ Needs. Located at 480 E. Railroad Ave, the café has a donation bin right at the doorway, and it already holds a few toys ready to be gifted. They will be accepting donations through the month of December.
Englewood Bank & Trust, located at 301 Park Ave., is accepting donations for Toys for Tots through Dec. 15. So far, donors have overflowed the box, but the bank will gladly add to the expanding stack. 
Aqua Boutique has accepted donations for a shoe drive on behalf of Englewood Elementary School. The school aims to collect secondhand shoe donations to support poverty-stricken micro-entrepreneurs overseas. Aqua has received multiple bags of shoes from gracious donors, including Boca Bargains. 
Just off the island, locals can participate in food, clothing and toy drives sponsored by various restaurants and businesses. Singer and songwriter John Salaway urges islanders to support the Christmas Toy Drive at Ricaltini’s on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. For those interested in donating to the toy drive, Salaway will accept donations while performing at The Temp on Dec. 11 at 10 p.m.
Boca Grande is home to giving hearts. From each community member’s generosity, needy families will find food on their tables and toys for their kids to open on Christmas. That’s why we love it here.