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Together Manatee, a group of concerned organizations working to bring positive and lasting change to Manatee County, recently awarded a $25,000 grant to the Manatee Community Foundation to support its community space available to local nonprofits.

The Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation recently awarded a two-year $60,000 grant to the State College of Florida Foundation to support students enrolled in Gator Engineering at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota. Gator Engineering is a collaborative program with the University of Florida's Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and State College of Florida. The program develops pathways for students to be admitted to the Herbert Wertheim College while starting their education at State College of Florida.

The Lakewood Ranch-based homebuilder Neal Communities recently donated $10,000 to benefit the Boca Royale Semper Fi Fund Charity Fundraiser, a local nonprofit established by Boca Royale Golf and Country Club residents dedicated to helping its parent organization, the Semper Fi Fund. The Semper Fi Fund provides immediate financial assistance and lifetime support to post-9/11 wounded, critically ill and injured members of all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families.

In partnership with the City of Bradenton Police Department, the Manatee Community Foundation recently established the Bradenton Blue Foundation, a charitable fund that allows citizens to provide tax-deductible contributions supporting the needs of the police department. Charitable gifts to the fund support public health and safety, community outreach, officer wellness, training, officer recognition and support in the event of a catastrophic occurrence. The first grant from the fund will be $5,000 to provide officers with funding for Narcan, a medication used to block the effects of heroin and opioids, especially in cases of overdose.

The University Park Country Club’s Ladies Golf Association recently donated $4,525 to provide new uniforms to kindergarteners at Sarasota's Emma E. Booker Elementary School. The organization has donated over $21,740 to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School Uniform Assistance Program since beginning its sponsorship in 2012.

Sarasota's Out-of-Door Academy hosted a peanut butter and jelly competition food drive during its annual Spirit Day, a celebration that brings both of their school campuses together for a day of activities. Though peanut butter is the most requested item at All Faiths Food Bank, more jelly donations were recorded this year. Last year, more than 120,000 jars of peanut butter were distributed through All Faiths Food Bank’s network of partners and programs.

Riverchase Dermatology is offering complimentary skin cancer screenings May 2-31 at 16 different office locations spanning from Marco Island to Zephyrhills. Participating offices include North Port, Englewood, Venice and Sarasota. New patients can call (800) 591-3376 or click here to make a free appointment.

Goodwill Manasota is fighting pollution from plastic shopping bags by partnering with eco-artist Michele Penn on a free community class called Bags to Beds. Community members are learning how to repurpose plastic bags by making sleeping mats for the homeless. Penn teaches participants how to use plastic bags to create “plarn” (plastic yarn) and crochet them into sleeping mats. Once completed, Penn brings the mats to Sarasota's Resurrection House. The Bags to Beds workshops take place at Goodwill’s Honore Community Room, 1704 N. Honore Ave., Sarasota, on the first Monday of each month from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. and on the second Thursday of each month from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. All materials are provided, but participants are invited to contribute bags from home.

Designing Daughters of Sarasota, a charitable organization of young professional women, is hosting its biggest annual event, A Fashionable Gala: Shipwrecked, from 7 to 11 p.m. on Friday, May 5, at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium, 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota. Attendees will enjoy a glitzy evening under the sea with live entertainment, fun fashion, seafood and signature cocktails. The event benefits the Designing Daughters of Sarasota’s grant program and all proceeds will be awarded to community nonprofits. Last year, the organization held its first-ever grants ceremony and awarded over $60,000 to 15 local nonprofits. Tickets are $95.

The Sarasota YMCA will host its first Golden Hearts Awards event, A Celebration of Philanthropy, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at Michael’s on East, 1212 S. East Ave., Sarasota. The event will benefit the YMCA, with funds going toward programs and services that benefit local individuals, children and families in need. The Y serves over 50,000 people annually and never turns anyone away for their inability to pay. Tickets to the event are $350.

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