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Group to host first fundraiser as rebranded Coastal Keepers

By Staff | Mar 21, 2018

Sam Lucas

An island organization that rebranded itself last year in an effort to have more of an immediate impact on the local community and environment is set to host its first fundraiser, once called Cracker Fest.

Coastal Keepers, formerly known as SanCap START or Solutions to Avoid Red Tide, will host the renamed The Launch on March 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. at The Community House on Sanibel. The event will feature dinner, auctions, live entertainment and more, with all of the proceeds to stay on-island.

Sam Lucas, conservation initiative coordinator of Coastal Keepers, explained that the local chapter of START had been in existence for about a decade. In 2017, the group decided to split from the Longboat Key-based state organization to ensure that funds raised would support island initiatives and programs.

“So we could be just completely local and support local,” she said.

Coastal Keepers carries out locally-based conservation initiatives and programs in order to promote marine conservation. It recognizes conservation is a global need and supports organizations at state and national levels, but its focus is local with an emphasis on projects that enhance the immediate island community and environment.

“We’re trying to stay local,” Lucas said.

While Coastal Keepers is viewed at the “conservation initiative arm” of the Sanibel Sea School, with the organizations working side-by-side at times, the two are completely separate and independent.

Replacing the well-known Cracker Fest, which would have marked its ninth year this past November, The Launch has the theme of “Celebrating The Past, Present and Future of Our Coastal Heritage.”

Tickets are $100 per person, and flip-flop casual attire is appropriate.

“We just really want for it to be a fun evening and to get our name out there,” she said.

Sanibel Catering Company by Bailey’s will set up a buffet dinner, including a cocktail hour with a selection of appetizers, a mix of salads and entree choices that spotlight prime rib, shrimp scampi and vegetarian polenta. There will also be a carving station on site, as well as an open bar for attendees.

Lucas explained that the live auction will feature about five items.

Richard Johnson, of Bailey’s General Store, will serve as the auctioneer.

Some of the items up for grabs include an original tarpon painting by artist Monika Urbanska, dinner for six at the home of Ralph and Jean Woodring, a boat trip to Useppa Island and a plank painting.

“She’s (Monika Urbanska) going to be doing a live painting at the event,” Lucas said.

The silent auction will showcase over a dozen items.

“Some of them are going to bundled this year,” she said.

There will be themed baskets, a stand up paddleboard excursion and gift certificate for the Key West Express, along with gift cards for businesses and services and outdoor gear, like fishing rods and shirts.

“We have some artwork,” Lucas said. “There’s a fishing charter, and more of a boat trip and tour of the island.”

During the fundraiser, information will be provided about the organization.

“We’re going to show a narrated slideshow about Coastal Keepers and what we do,” she said.

A band comprised of Sanibel musicians will entertain the crowd.

“More of like island-y music,” Lucas said.

In addition, each attendee will receive a swag bag to take home with a Coastal Keepers T-shirt, canvas bag that is given out as part of the organization’s Bring Your Own Bag initiative and reusable straw.

They will also get a small print of Urbanska’s tarpon painting, which is in the live auction.

Currently, Coastal Keepers is focused on three programs.

“Initiatives that anyone can do,” she said.

Bring Your Own Bag entails the organization handing out free bags at Bailey’s.

“We’re trying to reduce plastic on the island,” Lucas said.

On par with it is the Strawless On Sanibel initiative.

“We’re encouraging restaurants to not automatically put a plastic straw in people’s drinks,” she said, adding that the organization promotes doing so only when a customer requests one or using alternative products, like paper or biodegradable straws.

Finally, Coastal Keepers assists with the red tide monitoring program at the Sanibel Lighthouse by providing updates to the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium for its beach conditions report.

Lucas encouraged the community to pick up tickets for The Launch.

“Supporting us would be supporting an organization that is focused on community-based programs,” she said.

For tickets or more information, call 239-472-8585 or visit www.sancapcoastalkeepers.org.

The Community House is at 2173 Periwinkle Way.