SUN CITY CENTER – The Interfaith Council of Sun City Center has a big heart.
Through its sole fundraising source, the Nearly New Shop, the organization gave away $140,000 in grants to area nonprofit groups helping local residents and $170,000 in scholarships to graduating high school seniors who are college- or vocational school-bound, during the past year. All proceeds from the thrift store go to the council for disbursement.
“Through the Nearly New Shop we take item donations, turn them into cash, and then give it all back to the community,” said Jim Clor, the council’s new president. “And its all done through volunteers.”
Defining where the money goes is up to him and the council, a nonprofit group of nine Sun City Center houses of worship formed in 1971 that includes Beth Israel Jewish Congregation and United Community, United Methodist, St. John the Divine Episcopal, Redeemer Lutheran, Prince of Peace Catholic, Trinity Baptist, St. Andrew Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist churches. Each has a single board member and up to six voting council members.
Grant requests are accepted twice a year in September and January. A grants committee chaired by Roz Cruthis culls through the submissions and makes recommendations to the board, which votes and sends those it approves to the council members. Then the board budgets the grant.
Awards in the amount of $1,000 to $10,000 or more are made in November and March.
“We are focused on health, human services and education,” Cruthis said. “It’s all about benefiting people in need.”
Funding goes to support the efforts of 501(c) 3 and other nonprofit organizations, such as food banks, schools, educational programs, shelters and libraries.
Some of the past year’s recipients included The Hope Fund of Bethune Park in Wimauma, Mary & Martha House in Ruskin, LifePath Hospice in Sun City Center, the upcoming South County YMCA in Gibsonton and Steppin’ Stone Farm in Lithia.
Now through Sept. 30 the council is accepting fall grant applications, which can be found at www.interfaithcouncilofsuncitycenter.com. Once completed, the application, appropriate federal ID numbers and budget information may be mailed to The Interfaith Council of Sun City Center, P.O. Box 5342, Sun City Center 33573.
Without help from the public, none of the grants – or scholarships for that matter – would be possible, Cruthis said.
“I am in awe of the support we receive from the community, both in the donation of merchandise to the Nearly New Shop and the purchases they make,” she said.
For more information, call (813) 633-7217 or visit www.interfaithcouncilofsuncitycenter.com.