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8 May 2018
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Sanibel Island, for its size and population numbers, (low even in busy high season when snowbirds return to their tropical nests), is one of the most generous locations in all of Florida.
There is formalized giving and just impromptu generosity as well. There are large gifts from the bank and small gifts from the hands. But all gifts are gifts from the heart.

Two such organizations we like to talk about are the Sanibel Captiva Lions club and F.I.S.H.

Chartered in 1967, the Sanibel Captiva Lions club is a small group with a big reach.

Service to people who are visually impaired or totally blind has always been one of their most significant programs. For example, Lions operate the vast majority of eye banks throughout the world with three right here in Florida.

An all-volunteer organization under an International Association of over 1,000,000 members, where they enjoy fellowship with other Lions, plus developing their skills and service capabilities. Last year Lions contributed over $600 million to charities and over 30 million hours of volunteer service.

Each January they hold a Golf Tournament at Beachview Golf and Tennis Club on Sanibel. In March they hold the Arts and Crafts Fair at the Sanibel Community Center which brings artists and artisans from around the world to display their creations. And each April they hold a Pancake Breakfast, to raise money solely for the Lions Summer Camp Scholarships.

Other events include Christmas Tree sales and Fish fry parties.

And speaking of fish, we want to give a strong nod of approval to another group on Island who definitely cast about to throw their lines of assistance far and wide.

Friends In Service Here (F.I.S.H.) was established to lend a helping hand to those in need who live, work or visit Sanibel and Captiva by providing free services such as transportation, food pantry, meal delivery, health equipment, and emergency financial assistance through a group of volunteers who care about enhancing the quality of life for all those who request help.
In 2017 F.I.S.H. served over 760 clients on Sanibel and Captiva, and with their 200 FISH volunteers they delivered the following services:

  • Utilizing more than 151,000 pounds of food.
  • Their volunteers donated more than 6,150 hours of service to deliver their neighbors in need to doctors’ appointments. 
  • Drove 34,000 miles to doctors’ appointments and to delivering food.
  • They made 1,300 reassurance calls to support those in need.
  • Professional F.I.S.H. staff aided in more than 600 instances of Emergency Financial Assistance.
  • Educated 172 individuals with F.I.S.H. programming workshops.
  • During Hurricane Irma, they lent a hand in 562 instances to our islanding neighbors. 

The F.I.S.H. Walk-In Center is now a designated United Way House and can offer enhanced services to clients. Several United Way agencies in Lee County are working with F.I.S.H. of Sanibel to develop more effective, cost-efficient social service programs.

If you want a closer, more personal look at how F.I.S.H. lends a helping hand and to whom they extend their assistance, there is a page at their website that provides a brief bio of some of their clients.

We applaud the LIONS and the F.I.S.H. organizations for all they do and the many other groups on Sanibel that tap into volunteers to help both the humans and animals who live on or visit our beautiful Island Paradise.