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Caught in the Act of Kindness

While we’re all experiencing this life together, some have been afforded opportunities out of reach to others. Here, we celebrate individuals, groups and organizations that share their time, talent and treasure to meet the need in our community.


“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”

– Buddha

For consideration in Caught in the Act of Kindness, email an example of how an individual,
group or organization went above and beyond to help those in need to
If you have a related high-resolution photo, please include that as well.

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Ashly Altuzar; Edward Benitez; Francisco Garcia; Juana Francisco; Sulamita Lucas; Julian Pedro; Andrew Chase; Durham Egger


Trade Scholarships

The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools and the Shadow Wood Charitable Foundation surprised nine students with a $5,000 scholarship to any trade or technical school. Scholarships were awarded to seven students from Bonita Springs High School and two students from Estero High School virtually.

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Awareness and Inclusion 

Golisano Foundation presented a $50,000 grant to Best Buddies in Southwest Florida. “With a goal of creating awareness and inclusion throughout Southwest Florida, Best Buddies will use this grant to help forward our mission of providing more opportunities in area schools for students with intellectual and developmental disabilities,” says Melanie Musick, Best Buddies area director.

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Supporting Women’s Needs 

Alliance for Period Supplies of SWFL received $31,000 in grants, including $18,144 from the Community Trust Fund of the League Club, $8,000 from the West Bay Community Charitable Foundation and $5,000 from Swinging with Purpose. The grants will be used to purchase nearly 335,000 pads, which will be provided to women and girls in need across Collier and Lee counties. One in four women struggled to buy period products within the past year due to lack of income.

Funding Social Services 

The Naples Woman’s Club (NWC) announced over $135,000 in grants to the following social service agencies serving the Naples area needy this season: $15,000 each to David Lawrence Center for Behavioral Health, Wounded Warriors of Collier County and Naples Senior Center; $13,500 to Collier County Coalition for Hunger and Homeless; $12,000 each to Judy Sullivan Resource Center, Meals of Hope, St. Vincent de Paul Meals on Wheels and St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry; $10,000 each to Redlands Christian Migrant Association and Guardian ad Litem; $6,500 to Florida Lions Eye Clinic; and $2,500 to Collier County Public Library.

Wheels for Youth Haven 

The funds received from United Way of Collier and the Keys were used to purchase two vehicles for Youth Haven’s 25-acre therapeutic campus for children and teens who have been abused, abandoned, neglected or experiencing homelessness.

Building Strong Girls 

Gamma Phi Beta, whose philanthropic focus is “Building Strong Girls,” recently contributed $2,000 to nonprofits with whom it shares a common goal, including Alliance for Period Supplies of SW Florida, Jill’s Place Retreat Center (an affiliate of St Matthew’s House), Greater Naples Alumnae Panhellenic (scholarship fund) and Girls on the Run of Southwest Florida.

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School’s Out, Hunger’s Not 

June 24, 2021 - Roy’s Restaurant in Bonita Springs will collect nonperishable food from 4 to 6 p.m. for Community Cooperative’s “School’s Out, Hunger’s Not” summer food drive. Adult patrons who donate nonperishable food items will receive a complimentary beer or glass of Roy’s wine per person.

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John and Nicoletta Pepe


Opera Naples 

Now through June 30, 2021 - Longtime donors to Opera Naples, Nicoletta and John Pepe, will match every gift made today through June 30, 2021, up to $50,000, ensuring greater access to the arts!

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Support for Fire Victims 

United Way of Collier and the Keys collected donations to help victims of the 1,500-acre Golden Gate Estates brush fire rebuild their lives and homes. A few of the many others who offered assistance include Alda’s Diner, which provided free food; Vicki Baker, who recruited people to clean up burned homes and lots; Angie Birks, who coordinated clothing donations; Sarah Cascio, who coordinated GoFundMe and organizing helpers; and Ro Lahey, who coordinated meal donations.

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Hurricane Preparedness 

For the third year in a row, Community Cooperative partnered with Florida Power & Light Company to distribute 400 hurricane kits to Meals on Wheels recipients who are homebound and often unable to go out and buy necessary items to prepare for storms. Each kit provides three days of food.


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Julia Van Domelen


Care for Women and Children

The Bill and Julia Van Domelen Foundation awarded NCH Healthcare System a gift of $5.7 million for women and children to receive care closer to home. The funds will support the addition of high-priority staff positions; provide the opportunity to train operating room (OR) teams, emergency department (ED) health care workers and inpatient staff; and help raise the quality of care for NCH’s tiniest patients by elevating its current neonatal program to a Level III NICU.

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Hike for Haiti 

Hope for Haiti’s Hike for Haiti Challenge raised nearly $350,000 to support Hope for Haiti’s education and public health programs. Local sponsors and teams included IBERIABANK/First Horizon Foundation, First Florida Integrity Bank, CALAMOS, èBella magazine, Florida Gulf Coast University and Rotary Club of Naples.

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2020 Youth Leadership Collier Graduation

Photo courtesy of the Leadership Collier Foundation of the Greater Naples Chamber


Youth Community Leadership 

The Youth Leadership Collier (YLC) Class of 2020 distributed $10,000 in grants, funded by a Community Foundation of Collier County donor, to three local charities as part of the inaugural Youth Community Leadership Project.

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The Longest Day 

Naples Pickleball Center is honored to be a Global Team for The Longest Day®, benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association through pickleball and other activities. Collectively, we are committed to doing our part in supporting the mission in finding meaningful solutions for the treatment and compassionate care of those inflicted with Alzheimer’s and the families that live through the Longest Day®.

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Dr. Jaclynn Faffer and NSC Chairman Prentiss Higgins


Vaccinating Seniors 

Naples Senior Center (NSC) received a proclamation from the Board of Collier County Commissioners recognizing and expressing deep appreciation for the efforts of its leadership, staff and volunteers in assisting thousands of local seniors in obtaining COVID-19 vaccine appointments during the global pandemic.

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Brian P. and Apollo


Animal-assisted Therapy 

Shy Wolf Sanctuary Healing Hearts program offers the healing benefits of animal-assisted therapy to residents in David Lawrence Center’s Crossroads addiction recovery program. When participants visit the Shy Wolf Sanctuary Education & Experience Center to spend time with animals, which include numerous wolves and wolfdogs, discussions include the emotions we share with animals, how our experiences shape who we are and how we perceive the world, building healthy relationships, and developing trust and establishing boundaries.

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Shirley Mann, scholarship fund chairman; Harris Lanzel, conductor/music director; Mikayla Ricigliano, baritone sax.; Elizabeth Parker, flute; Lenny Johnson, flute; Amanda Gibson, euphonium; Shreya Rajaram, trumpet; and David Drewek, NCB president

Naples Concert Band Awards Scholarships 

The Naples Concert Band is thrilled to announce its annual Scholarship Fund recipients: Mikayla Ricigliano, Marc Costello Memorial Scholarship; Elizabeth Parker, Bill Belaney Memorial Scholarship; Lenny Johnson, Tom Curcio Memorial Scholarship; Amanda Gibson, NCB Memorial Scholarship; Shreya Rajaram, Art Zens Trumpet Scholarship; Gabriel Chalick, Art Zens Trumpet Scholarship; and Ian Laufer, Art Zens Trumpet Scholarship.

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Susie DeSantis, Robert DeSantis, Donna Sublett, Ann Sell, Will Galloway, Susan Chicone, Drew Chicone, Sally Brumfield, Jennifer Chicone and David Chicone.


Food and Social Support

Community Cooperative supporters raised $1.22 million at an event to continue its programs, which include Meals on Wheels, Soup Kitchen, mobile food pantries and social service programs. Restaurants and restaurateurs donating food to the event included Chris and Kaitlin Whitaker of LYNQ, Harold Balink of Harold's, Mike and Karen Gavala of G3 Catering, Will Prather and Maureen Green-Prather of Broadway Palm, Vickie and Andre Jones of Jonesez BBQ, Wesley Hansen, Jr. and Deanna Hansen, John and Paul Browning of Three Fishermen Restaurant, Shannon Yates and Wally Thomas of Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, Chip and Betsy Barnwell of Farmer's Market Restaurant, Tim and Healy Yoa of Artisan Eatery, Norman and Mary Love of Norman Love Confections, Kristin Potts of Kristin's Famous Key Lime Pies, Uncle Charlie's Cookie Ministry, Mast Family Culligan, Mitchell Family of Suncoast Beverage, Ranch Concert Hall & Saloon, Seed & Bean Market and Total Wine & More.

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The Immokalee Foundation's students gain hands-on experience at the Career Pathways Learning Lab.

Support for The Immokalee Foundation 

Numerous donors have stepped up to support The Immokalee Foundation’s Career Pathways program and its Learning Lab subdivision. Collier Enterprises donated 8.3 acres of land and helped underwrite the cost of the permitting and infrastructure work, an investment of more than $1 million; The Ray Foundation’s $250,000 matching grant provided a significant boost in getting the Learning Lab underway; an anonymous donor gave $247,500 to support the construction of a new home; and Suncoast Credit Union awarded a grant for $10,000 to the program. The Immokalee Foundation also partnered with BCB Homes and Immokalee Technical College (iTECH) to develop a high school curriculum of after-school and summer programs that incorporate on-the-job, experiential learning and paid internships.

Funds for Naples Therapeutic Riding Center

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Kim Santora and Sampson


Donors and sponsors raised $150,000 for Naples Therapeutic Riding Center (NTRC) at its annual Kentucky Derby Party. In addition to the amount raised by the auction, Jeff Fortier, Harry Witt, Dave Joyce and Jano Janoyan, who collectively bid on the winning horse, surprised the audience by donating all of their winnings back to NTRC. Connie and Gary Sharpe matched the amount raised during a cash call.

Attendees at the Gala of the Royal Horses traveling horse performance raised $7,000 for Naples Therapeutic Riding Center. This elaborate traveling show featured 11 horses from around the world, including Lipizzaner stallions and Andalusian, Friesian and the Arabian breed.

World-renowned riding master Rene Gasser

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