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Manatee's oldest ladies service club sets giving record

BRADENTON -- The Service Club of Manatee County, the oldest ladies service club in the county, raises money to help needy children through its Antiques and Collectibles Show every February at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

The 50th antique show this year raised a all-time record of $64,000.

Because of record donations, The Service Club of Manatee County was able Thursday to donate a single-year high of $111,200 to 28 nonprofit charities for children in need, said Eileen Hoffner, president of the club started in 1927.

"We're a bunch of ladies," Hoffner said with a smile after grants were handed out at Art Center of Manatee. "We know how to make money."

The club earns money by renting show space to vendors and through gate receipts, said Hoffner, one of about 40 women in the club.

A beneficiary was lit

tle Olivia Gehndyu, 3, who will have physical therapy through a grant made to Community Haven. She was born prematurely at 30 weeks, said mother, Ciara Hawk, who attended the event with Olivia's father, Prince Gehndyu.

The Service Club of Manatee has supported Community Haven since 1960, said Marla Doss, president and chief executive officer of Community Haven.

"The Service Club of Manatee County has been a wonderful partner in our mission to empower children, teens and adults with physical disabilities to be as independent as possible," Doss said. "We meet those needs through employment, education, housing and therapy."

Grants ranged from $950 to $14,000. The Service Club of Manatee has now donated more than $1 million since 2005, Hoffner said.

Grants will help:

Provide 20 Art Center of Manatee scholarships for needy children to attend the Art Center's Kid's Art Camp, said Cathy Mijou, Art Center development coordinator.

The Elks' Feeding Empty Little Tummies to take care of homeless or food-deprived children between the ages of 5 and 12 in Manatee County, said volunteer Jeff Mitchell. "These kids often have no food over the weekend when school is out, so that is where we step in," said Mitchell whose charity gives out bags or backpacks containing macaroni and cheese, fruit cups, oatmeal, breakfast bars, peanut butter, loaves of bread and other nonperishable items.

Manatee Glens heal some emotional wounds in up to 20 children by taking them horseback riding and teaching them to play the guitar, said Cathy Wilson and Anne Burke.

Guardian Angels build a playground on campus, said Angel Bobbie Price.

Up to 40 needy children with tuition so they can go to the The Manatee Players weeklong summer acting camp, said Janene Amick, executive director.

Young Life of Manatee County provide meals and camp tuition to adolescents with disabilities, said Young Life's Emily Johnson.

Stillpoint House of Prayer assist up to 400 mothers each month with diapers, said Jeff Belvo, Stillpoint president.

St. Joseph's Food Bank provide groceries for children during summer school break, said Mike and Patti O'Driscoll, who operate the bank.

Manatee Children's Services beautify its residential home, said representative Marcella Lacy.

Turning Points give 10 families rent assistance, said Adell Erozer, executive director of Turning Points.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or on Twitter@RichardDymond.

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