Gasparilla Generosity part III… to kids from 1 to 92…

December 18, 2020
By Olivia Cameron

BY OLIVIA CAMERON- As we return to our four-part series on locals making the holiday season a bit brighter, we are reminded how significant a single donation can be. The island upholds its annual tradition of generosity, with the hope of bringing good tidings to those who need it most.
Across many news platforms, we’ve seen families visiting their loved ones on the other side of windowpanes at senior care facilities. Local care facilities have especially faced challenges, fears of illness and understaffing issues since the onset of the pandemic. They have been working hard to keep their members and staff healthy and at a distance from others. Unfortunately, this means families have been hardly able to visit, and seniors have spent more time indoors and out of social interaction.
Brookdale in Rotonda is one of many assisted living facilities in the area with multiple care options, but they have found that small donations bring big smiles to their members’ faces. Through the holiday season, they will be accepting donations of any kind, such as candy, cookies, cards or fruits, to name a few. They urge donors to leave donations outside between the two front doors. For more information, call (941) 474-2285.
Heritage Oaks of Englewood is currently accepting donations for their staff. They will pool all donations and divide them among staff members. The facility is also involved in the Englewood Senior Giving Tree program, set up by Sue MacNamera of Doctor’s Choice Home Care. The tree in their lobby is decked with tags of seniors’ holiday gift requests. “Every giving tag on the tree has been taken already, over 300 of them,” said Chris Snider, director of sales and marketing at the facility. 
Kathy Bruns, executive director of the facility, also calls upon the community to drop donations at the front desk to make unique gift baskets for their members. If you are interested in participating in the giving tree program, call Sue for details at 270-2505. To donate to Heritage Oaks of Englewood, call (941) 244-4698.
Grand Villa of Englewood hopes the community can come together to support the heroes of the pandemic, including their own staff members. As with most care facilities, these staff members work around the clock to provide consistent support for their senior members.
To thank their staff, Grand Villa of Englewood is holding a year-round project, the Grand Villa Heroes Fund. One hundred percent of all funds received will benefit team members. The first round of distributions to their team members goes out on Dec. 23. Visit their Facebook page, Grand Villa of Englewood, to make a donation or call (844) 404-0661.
On the island, businesses and venues continue to receive hefty donations to feed and support our local community. Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church has collected donations for “Shoes for Kids” since 2004, and this year is no exception. This year, the program assists families from Arcadia needing help with mortgage, rent and utilities. 
Since the beginning of December, the program has yielded over $21,000 in contributions. To the church, it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
As we approach the end of this unusual year, donations big or small will yield a happy holiday and hopes for a fresh start.