BRADENTON -- The Season of Sharing, an ongoing regional campaign to help thousands of families and individuals on the verge of homelessness, just got a potential shot in the arm.
Joe Mercado is glad of it, but keeping his fingers crossed.
A Sarasota couple, Charles and Margie Barancik, will donate $100,000 if the community raises $60,000 in new or increased donations. That would activate not only the Baranciks' donation, but also meet the Patterson Foundation's $500,000 Season of Sharing match for new or increased donations.
With more than $970,000 in donations so far, the generosity of the Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte and DeSoto region is nearing the campaign's $1 million fundraising goal.
"As a front line agency, we rely on the compassion and generosity of our community," said Mercado, operations manager for Turning Points, formerly the Community Coalition on Homelessness. "In the last few years, we have seen a huge increase in families and children needing help and these numbers continue to grow.
"We have received thousands of applications for assistance in the last couple of months and if it wasn't for Season of Sharing, we just wouldn't be able to help."
This year there is still the opportunity for approximately $60,000 in new or increased donations to be matched through the Patterson Foundation, funds that can be used to help an additional 500 families facing homelessness.
"The Season of Sharing is a demonstration of the generosity we love about this community," Margie Barancik said. "Our eyes have been opened that not everyone can share in such an enhanced life here."
The Season of Sharing flourishes with the charity of many people from all walks of life. Nearly three quarters of the 3,100 gifts received during the 2012 campaign were $100 or less.
To donate, visit: www.cfsarasota.org.
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055. Twitter:@vinmannix