Give Day helps local charities by 24-hour online donations

By KEVIN BRADY

GIVE-DAY-LOGOAt the stroke of midnight May 5, charity will begin at home on your home computer, laptop or smartphone.

Give Day Tampa Bay hopes to make May 5 a day of online giving for the Bay area and bring in more than $1 million for local charities, including many in South County. Last year’s Give Day, the first in the Bay area, saw 5,144 contributors donate $1,089,359 to 385 local nonprofit groups.

A virtual event with a personal touch, the 24 hours of giving lets donors use a website — www.givedaytampabay.org — to donate to the charity of their choice.

“Our giving website makes it easy, safe and fun to give,” according to the group’s website. “Donors can designate gifts to organizations already doing essential work in our community. Our professional staff is also here to help.” The minimum donation is $25.

The marathon donation drive will also have a special twist in Sun City Center for those without access to a home computer or who approach the idea of giving financial information online with the same sense of dread a family therapist does when approaching a member of the Kardashian family.

“For the folks in Sun City Center who don’t use a computer, I decided to have an event here to host several of the organizations [who will benefit from the drive],” said Debbie Caneen, director of admissions at SunTowers Retirement Community.

“There are residents who have a golf cart but don’t necessarily have the time or means to get to these charities but who would like to contribute to the community,” she said. “They can ride their cart over here and meet the people [behind some of the nonprofit groups]. If they have some face time with the people who are running these organizations, they may be more inclined to donate to these organizations, and they are all such good causes.”

The event is set for 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at SunTowers, 101 Trinity Lakes Drive. Call 813-892-2990 for information.

Part of the meet-and-greet will be the Sun City Center Samaritan Services Alzheimer’s Auxiliary. It’s the first time the group is participating in Give Day, and President Dolores Berens is looking forward to the drive and raising much-needed money.

The Auxiliary provides 50 free hours of professional help for families or a week’s stay at an assisted-living facility or a day center. “We started it to let families know what is available for them in Sun City Center,” Berens said. For more information, call 813-634-9283.

Also welcoming the unique online giving effort is the Sun City Center Emergency Squad.

“The Emergency Squad is very excited about this opportunity,” said Chief Dennis Floto. “Although we’ve had the community’s support for 50 years, inflation raises the cost of operations such as fuel, medical supplies and vehicle maintenance. We are always seeking new sources of donations. The recession of this past decade hit many of our seniors hard, having an impact on our financial situation. We believe this event will be particularly helpful for us.”

“Our volunteers come from the community and they love what they do, but it still takes financial support to keep our ambulances on the road,” said Robin Watt, the emergency squad’s assistant chief of communications. “Through Give Day, we are hoping to attract new donors and make giving easier through this event.”

Other representatives will also be on hand to meet with the residents, including Mary & Martha House, a local shelter for homeless and abused women and their dependent children.

Give Day is organized by The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, which has been expanding philanthropy in the Bay area for 25 years, and the Florida Next Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to driving innovation and enhancing Florida’s economy.

The campaign is supported by a swath of major Bay area businesses and nonprofits, including The Tampa Bay Rays, WEDU and the DeBartolo Family Foundation.

“The midnight-to-midnight event showcases our local nonprofits and makes giving easy, whether you are a first-time donor or a long-time supporter,” says the website. “All it takes is a couple of clicks on your smartphone, tablet or computer.”

Give Day aims to not only enlist new donors and raise awareness about the work of local charities but also to help nonprofits learn new online giving and outreach skills.

For more information on Give Day or to donate on May 5, visit www.givedaytampabay.org.

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