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Season’s Givings

2010 will end as it began for the housing market in Southwest Florida—on a steady path toward recovery. In between, we were confronted with a few unexpected hurdles; not the least of which was the wildly false perception that oil from a distant spill had somehow overtaken our coastline. Happily our famously white beaches were never threatened; and have never been more spectacular—or pristine—as we prepare to welcome our seasonal guests in the New Year.

News of the economy, as it affects the entire nation, has been very heartening of late. Across the country, factories are busier, construction spending is up, auto sales are on the upswing and sales among the nation’s retailers—according to the latest report out from the Commerce Department—rose more than expected in November, added proof that the recovery gathered a noticeable head of steam during the final quarter of 2010. Plus, consumer confidence—as tracked monthly by the Conference Board—improved in October and got better still in November. Confidence can move mountains in times like these.

Closer to home, we’ve also enjoyed a string of encouraging news about our own recovery, especially with respect to job creation. Local manufacturers—including PGT, Tervis Tumbler, IntegraClick and others—have announced major plans to hire anew in the face of renewed productivity. This as newcomer, Hollywood filmmaker Sanborn Studios, throws open its doors in Lakewood Ranch; and Ringling College of Art and Design expresses intent to build a state-of-the-art, post-production movie facility. Moreover, these cinematic enterprises fit perfectly into Sarasota County’s loftier goal of leveraging its existing educational and cultural assets in order to build a more stable and diverse economy less prone to booms and busts.

Unfortunately, the benefits of a recovering economy trickle down last to those who need them most. You’d be hard-pressed to convince a freshly laid-off worker or newly homeless family that economic conditions are on the upswing. That’s why we are exceptionally proud of the agents, staff and managers at Michael Saunders & Company, who in spite of exceedingly demanding times in their own professional lives, have never once shied from giving of their time, money and selves to advance the area’s worthiest causes. In the company’s 35-year tradition of involvement within the communities we serve, wherever there’s an important need to fill you’ll always find one of our agents—or indeed entire branch offices—rushing in to lend a hand.

All Faiths Food Bank, Toys for Tots, Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, Meals on Wheels, Mothers Helping Mothers, Habitat for Humanity, the Humane Societies of Sarasota and Manatee Counties, The Community Foundations of Sarasota and Manatee Counties, Shoes for Kids, The Gulf Coast Community Foundation of Venice, Women’s Resource Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Suncoast, Girls, Inc., Boys & Girls Club of Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte Counties and Special Olympics are but a few of the organizations whose missions benefit all year long from the personal involvement of our agents.

Please join us in making sure organizations such as these enjoy year-round support, particularly in this year’s time of record need. To that end, one of our area’s worthiest organizations is All Faiths Food Bank, which distributes food to more than 7,100 people weekly in Sarasota and DeSoto Counties. A donation of $100 provides 159 meals; $500 serves 794 meals. Learn more at AllFaithsFoodBank.org.
You can also give to Season of Sharing, a 10-year-old fundraising partnership for the needy in Sarasota, Charlotte, Manatee and DeSoto Counties. Created by the Herald-Tribune Media Group and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, The Patterson Foundation is matching all new contributions to Season of Sharing, dollar-for-dollar, up to $500,000. If you have never given before, or increase your gift, your donation is doubled. Learn more at cfsarasota.org.

However you plan to celebrate the holidays, on behalf of all of us at Michael Saunders & Company we thank you for caring; and wish each of you a joyous, healthy and prosperous 2011.

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