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Recreation sponsorships a hit with donors, helping families with program costs

By Staff | Dec 10, 2014

Hall of Sponsors at the Sanibel Recreation Center. PHOTO PROVIDED

The generosity of islanders and island merchants continues to benefit families and workers.

A new sponsor has been added to the Sanibel Recreation Center’s Hall of Sponsors, a program to help defray the costs to island workers and islanders for after-school programs, summer and holiday camps and other activities for children. Assistance is need-based.

The newest nameplate added to the Hall of Sponsors is Chuck Bergstrom’s, an island realtor and supporter of island causes. Bergstrom is one of 10 new sponsors this year. The program since 2009 has added some 150 donor nameplates to Recreation Center walls. The sponsorship program, donors and fundraisers generate about $50,000 a year. A New Year’s Eve fundraiser has attracted up to 700 islanders in the last five years, as well.

“I have been very fortunate,” Bergstrom said of a $255 annual donation to have his name placed in the Recreation Center’s Hall of Sponsors, “and when you realize how lucky you’ve been, you give back.”

Hall of Sponsors at the Recreation Center began in 2009. Sanibel had subsidized the costs of youth programming but the economic downturn limited how much the city could afford. Town officials tapped Barry Roth to devise a way to raise funds to assist families with the costs of recreation programs. The idea evolved into the Hall of Sponsors, which places signs with sponsor names of the walls of the center. Sponsorship can also be anonymous. Proceeds help fund the Financial Assistance Program. Applicants for recreation programs are awarded assistance on a sliding scale based on income and need. Awards are from 35-80 percent of the cost of a holiday camp, for instance. Recipients are island workers or families. Hundreds of families and children have benefitted from the sponsor program, Roth said.

“Our effort to assist our children is a collaborative effort with many to thank, beginning with the city manager, city council, Sanibel staff, the recreation director and her staff, volunteers and the generosity of this community,” Roth said.

Hall of Sponsors since 2009 has generated about $260,000 in donations, Roth said. Ten new sponsors have been added to the wall this year.

Sponsor and assistance applications are mysanibel.com, click “recreation” to find details.