PUBLISHED SEPT. 15, 2016
By CARL MARIO NUDI
Two Manatee County nonprofits and a local business are teaming up to kick off their participation in the 2016 Giving Challenge, a 24-hour online regional fundraiser for participating organizations.
The Manatee County Agricultural Museum, 1015 6th St. W., Palmetto, and the Easter Seals of Southwest Florida have partnered with Bayside Pet Resort to throw a party the organizers are calling Yappy Hour, at 5:30 p.m., Sept. 20, at the Easter Seals campus, 350 Braden Ave., Sarasota.
The Community Foundation of Sarasota County organized the 2016 Giving Challenge with supporting partner The Patterson Foundation, with additional support from Manatee Community Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, William G. and Marie Selby Foundation and the Herald-Tribune Media Group.
Yappy Hour is being billed as a happy hour for pets and their owners.
There will be complimentary food and wine for the pet owners from the Anna Maria Oyster Bar, Jason’s Deli, and Culver’s for the owners, along with music by the rock group Bl3nded.
And Bayside Pet Resort, 8154 N. Tamiami Trail, will provide nail trimming, pampering and primping for the pets.
A photographer will be on hand to photograph owners and their four-legged friends.
Another fun event at Yappy Hour will be the pet costume contest. The owner who dresses their furry friend in the best farm animal costume will win an original pet portrait painted by an Easter Seals’ student.
Newscaster Scott Dennis from ABC 7 WWSB, and Lulu, a CTQ Radio personality on the Maverick and Lulu Show, will judge the costume contest, with help from other guests.
Lori Hagey, marketing and development associate for Easter Seals of Southwest Florida, said the adults and students in Viktoria Bridgeford’s art classes recently started taking commissions to paint portraits of pets.
“They already have done pet portraits for Bayside customers,” Hagey said.
During the 24-hour 2016 Giving Challenge, donors can go to thegivingpartnerchallenge.org website starting at noon, Sept. 20 until 11:59 a.m., Sept. 21.
Every donation will be matched by one of the supporting sponsor groups.
Gifts from new donors up to $100 will be matched two-to-one, while returning donor gifts will be matched on a one-to-one basis.
“Only donations made online during the 24-hour period will count for matching funds,” said Diane Ingram, executive director of the agricultural museum. “So we’ll have computers available at the Yappy Hour event for donors to use.”
Ingram said the museum’s partnership with Easter Seals started when that organization’s organic farm project provided the herbs used in centerpieces for the Night at the Museum fundraiser in February.
“At our Academy Farm all kinds of herbs and vegetables are grown that are 100 percent USDA certified organic,” Hagey said. “They are sold to local restaurants, such as Beach Bistro in Holmes Beach.”
The adults and high school students in the program grow and harvest all the products, she said.
“This is part of Easter Seals’ mission to help our adults and children become more independent,” Hagey said. “This program has taken off all over town and has gathered a lot of support.”
As an added incentive, the supporting organizations of Giving Challenge have created several challenges for the participating nonprofits to work toward.
“Manatee Foundation put out a challenge to get millennials involved with our event,” Ingram said. “We also expect a lot of them to attend.”
Hagey said millennials from the Manatee Young Professionals and the Sarasota Young Professionals will help out at the Yappy Hour as volunteers.
The two nonprofits are also using social media — a medium millennials are comfortable with — to promote their fundraiser.
A Facebook events page has been established HERE where information and updates will be posted.
“There will be an online pet contest,” Hagey said.
Posters are asked to use #BeTheOne, #PlantABetterFuture, and #GivingChallenge16 when posting photos of their pets to be judged.
Another challenge they are vying for is partnering with another nonprofit.
Ingram said the partnership with Easter Seals will go beyond the Giving Challenge event.
The exhibit will then move to the museum for one week, starting with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m., Sept. 30.
Then on Oct. 7 the art and museum pieces will be exhibited at Viktoria’s Studio, 1002 10th Ave W., Bradenton, in the Village of the Arts for the Friday Night Art Walk Oct. 7, and again at the Sarasota Easter Seals campus for a Chamber of Commerce Coffee Club event they are hosting on Oct. 27.
“I think it’s pretty cool the exhibition will be traveling,” Ingram said. “The exposure provides a different type of promotion for Easter Seals and the agricultural museum.”
A third challenge the nonprofits are working on is “best community event.”
“Yappy Hour is more about community awareness than solely fundraising,” Ingram said. “It’s to let more people know about the museum and Easter Seals.”