Charities celebrate "Give Local America" day with contest, fundraiser

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Posted: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 5:09 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- All across the nation today, charitable organizations are celebrating "Give Local America" day. The campaign coincides with the third annual 24 hour online fundraiser supporting local non-profits, including more than 400 from across the Suncoast.

The 2014 Giving Challenge started at noon on Tuesday, and will continue through the night until noon on Wednesday. Charitable organizations on the Suncoast - representing causes as disparate as the arts, animal welfare, children and education -- have been doing all they can to raise money for their causes.

Turns out the hard work is paying off, and the 2014 challenge hit the $1 million raised mark in less than 20 minutes.

"It's been crazy," said Shelley Thayer, Executive Director of Cat Depot. "Out of the shoot we went into first place; this was so exciting."

Cat Depot is just one of the hundreds of Suncoast non-profits campaigning for their cause. They plan to stay open all night and are offering entertainment for the kids.

"We're going to fight this thing out," Thayer says. "It's a great cause a great opportunity, and this is a wonderful opportunity to help all those abandoned and homeless cats."

Since fundraising is all online, the website allows donors to see the amount of money raised in real time. And for just $25 anyone can become a philanthropist.

Several arts organizations recognized the power of social media and came up with creative ways to campaign.

"We had a lot of fun with the Sailor Circus students and members of the HuB putting together a fun music video," Said Jennifer Mitchell of the Circus Arts Conservatory. She then added, "Um, and we sweated a little."

The Circus Arts Conservatory has not been renovated in 40 years and needs the funds for air conditioning improvements and new safety floors for the students that rehearse there.

And in downtown Sarasota, music and performances brought awareness to the arts and culture groups throughout the Suncoast.

"The Arts and Cultural Alliance is the umbrella organization for all the arts, and what we're asking is that you pick out your favorite organizations and go make a donation to help them do what they do best," said Arts & Culture Alliance Director Jim Shirley.

The Community Foundation of Sarasota County says in its three years putting on the 24 hour campaign, they've more than tripled the number of organizations involved and raised over 2 million dollars each year.

It's even having an impact nationally and globally.

"All 50 states, six continents," said Community Foundation of Sarasota's Roxie Jerde. "Phenomenal supporting [of] our community."

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