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Retail : For Good

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Artist-made skateboard proceeds go to nonprofit Boards for Bros.

There’s no denying that skateboarding culture has always been mixed up with some form of art, whether it’s deck design or graffiti.

Now comes California Artist Andrew Schoultz to kick off the annual Tampa Amateur Skateboarding Finals while celebrating the Skatepark of Tampa’s 25th Anniversary. Schoultz will be exhibiting 15 hand-painted skate decks alongside 10 other artist’s boards at The Bricks in Ybor on Nov. 10 at 8 p.m.
 
Instead of the profits going into the artists’ pockets, these 25 rideable art pieces will be going to the local nonprofit Boards for Bros.
 
“I’ve been paying attention to what Boards for Bros. has been doing for a while. They go into underprivileged areas where there are skate parks or they’ll set up a mini skate park for a weekend and they give away boards and helmets to those who don’t have them. Right now, skateboarding is the new ‘hoop dreams.’ Some of the most talented kids are coming from underprivileged areas. Skateboarding really can save you, and I think there’s a lot of power and purpose in what they’re doing,” Schoultz says.
 
Though he lives and works in California, Schoultz has ties to the skateboarding community in Tampa through Paul Zitzer, SPoT Events Operations and Public Relations (they grew up in the same city), and SPoT owner Brian Schaefer (they connected after he saw Schoultz’ installation at Art Basel Miami last year).
 
“I was coming to SPoT a lot in the '90s, and in 1999 I skated in one of their amateur contests. I pretty much grew up going there, and 20 years later I’m still participating, just in a different way,” the artist says. “I’ve worked in a nonprofit sector in the past, so I know how hard fundraising is. You can do a lot with very little and still have a big effect, so raising a couple thousand dollars could really help. This is what I love about skateboarding, it’s a really community-oriented sport.”
 
Schoultz, who earned his BFA at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, has international acclaim and mostly shows in galleries and museums with linear/drawing-based work that is loosely based on comic books, graffiti, old clip art and skateboard graphics.
 
“I’ve been a skateboarder all my life, but as an artist I’ve emerged into doing things all over the world. Skateboarding has informed everything I’ve done to this point as an artist and a person,” he says.
 
While Schoultz won’t be around for this opening, he will be back in Tampa in March where he will be there to paint the skatepark and participate in another fundraising event during the Annual Tampa Pro.
 
Any pieces that don’t sell during the show will be available online at SPoTTampa starting Nov. 20, with the proceeds still going toward Boards for Bros.

Arts and culture equal big business in Hillsborough

Editor's note: Due to the uncertainty of the impact of Hurricane Irma, the Hillsborough Arts Council has canceled this Sept. 14 event at Tampa Theatre.

Many may think supporting the arts is an act of charity or something done just for fun, but a new study outlines the true value in terms of dollars and sense. In fiscal year 2015, the nonprofit arts and culture industry had an economic impact of $433.2 million in Hillsborough County alone.

That’s the message Randy Cohen, VP of Research and Policy for Americans for the Arts, will share between 8-9 a.m. September 14 at Tampa Theatre, 711 North Franklin St., in downtown Tampa.

“So often people just see the arts as being a quality of life issue, and they don’t think about the economic impact,” explains Martine Meredith Collier, Executive Director of the Tampa-based Arts Council of Hillsborough County.

The Arts and Economic Prosperity study by Americans for the Arts, its fifth, documents the economic impact of the nonprofit arts and culture industry in 341 regions within the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Arts Council paid $10,250 for the local impact study with funding from the Hillsborough County Economic Development office and the Gobioff Foundation. The council joined the study as a partner to receive a customized analysis.

The numbers show the arts have had a growing role. Since fiscal year 2008, the economic impact of arts in Hillsborough climbed from nearly $298 million.

Collier points out business and government support for the arts is good for business. “It really is not a frill. People want to live in communities that have a vibrant cultural scene,” she says.

Today’s young entrepreneurs can choose to live wherever they want. “They can live anywhere as long as there is an airport and a computer connection,” she explains. “They’re choosing where to live, where to raise a family, by what that communities offer. If you don’t have a vibrant cultural scene, you’re cutting yourself off.”

Of the $433.2 million, arts and culture within the City of Tampa accounted for $349.2 million, according to a separate report.

In the Tampa Bay region, nonprofit arts and culture had the most dramatic economic impact in Hillsborough County, followed by $295 million impact in Sarasota County and nearly a $241 million impact in Pinellas County, according to estimates. The economic impact of the industry in Manatee County was some $47.4 million, compared to nearly $46.6 million in Polk County.

The event, which begins with networking at 7:30 a.m., is free and open to the general public. Interested parties are asked to RSVP.

Cohen has published one of the largest national public opinion studies on the arts, Americans Speak Out About the Arts. He also publishes Arts and Economic Prosperity and Creative Industries, two premier economic studies of the art industries. His blog, 10 Reasons to Support the Arts, earned the Gold Award given by the Association of Media and Publishing.

The council, in its 50th year, will be using findings from the study through its three-year strategic plan. “We’re going to be continuing to promote the value of arts and culture through our strategic plan,” she says.

The study found nonprofit arts and cultural events drew visitors who spent an average of  $67.51 per person, in addition to admission.

It shows 78.7 percent of those who visit Hillsborough County for a cultural event come primarily for that event. “The [non-resident] survey also asked local resident attendees about what they would have done if the arts event that they were attending was not taking place: 51.3 percent of resident attendees said they would have ‘traveled to a different community to attend a similar cultural event,' " the report notes.

Forty-two percent, or more than 2 million people, who attended local arts events included in the study were non-residents. They spent nearly $155 million in addition to admission fees.

The arts industry supports 14,962 full-time jobs with a household income of some $329.1 million in Hillsborough County.

Nearly 65 percent of the nonprofit arts and cultural organizations took part in the study countywide. “We were very successful in getting all of the larger budget organizations,” Collier adds.

Art lovers can learn more about the area art scene through the Art Council's new publication, A Guide to Arts and Culture, available in print and digital formats.


For Good: American Cancer Society, Tervis team up to create Hands of Hope

Cancer affects the lives of millions of Americans each year --but it is with courageous hands that so many cancer patients and their loved ones and caregivers reach out from the darkness to touch lives, work toward a cure and inspire hope in others who are also battling the disease. 

The American Cancer Society recently announced a collaboration with Sarasota County-based insulated drinkware company, Tervis, to create an exclusive series of tumblers and water bottles with designs that feature the handprints of cancer patients and their families.

Tervis will donate 10 percent of sale proceeds to support the American Cancer Society's efforts to eliminate cancer as a major health problem through research, prevention and support for patients and their loved ones. 

The handprint design was created at the Winn Dixie Hope Lodge in Atlanta, and is intended to illustrate the lives of those who are touched by cancer: to tell the human stories behind the disease. The cup artwork depicts the handprints of cancer patients and their families arranged to form butterflies -- a symbol of hope and renewal, as well as bereavement -- that honor the lives lost to cancer and illustrate the powerful bravery and hope of those who battle the disease.

"When we met with the American Cancer Society about this project, every team member was incredibly moved by the Hands of Hope story. Tervis customers have always gotten behind our activism designs but we had been hearing lately that they wished that we had other cancer support designs beyond just the Pink Ribbon Collection for breast cancer awareness. We loved how inclusive this project was of all cancer survivors, caregivers and supporters," says Tervis president Rogan Donelly. 

Donelly notes that many in the Venice, Fla. based Tervis family have been personally affected by cancer or have supported a loved one battling the disease. He adds that over the years, Tervis has donated more than $100,000 to cancer research and local organizations, but that the partnership with the American Cancer Society is the first of its kind. 

"It was the perfect opportunity to work together to champion cancer education and research. We see this as the beginning of a long-term partnership," Donelly says. 

The 'Hands of Hope' tumblers and water bottles, as well as the Tervis 'Pink Ribbon Collection', can be purchased online and in 47 Tervis stores nationwide. 

"The American Cancer Society is grateful for the support of corporate partners such as Tervis, who have developed distinctive and creative products to encourage their customers to become involved in raising awareness and funds to end cancer," says Sharon Byers, chief development and marketing officer for the American Cancer Society. "We're excited to collaborate to increase awareness of all cancers to help end the pain and suffering caused by this disease."

For Good: USF partners with custom T-shirt company to raise funds for Moffitt

A local custom T-shirt company is partnering with USF to raise funds for cancer research.

Big Frog Custom T-Shirts & More, a garment decorating franchise based out of Dunedin, has announced its exclusive sponsorship with the USF’s Athletics Department. The custom T-shirt company will provide USF’s ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ campaign shirts. These shirts support Moffitt Cancer Center, raising cancer awareness and funds for research.

The president of Big Frog, Dr. Tina Bacon-DeFrence, an alumna of USF, wants to help those battling cancer.

“All of us here at Big Frog, from the Dunedin headquarters to our individual franchises, and store employees across the country, have been affected by cancer in some form,” she says. “We might have battled through it ourselves, fought through it with a close friend or family member, or have shed tears over the loss of folks close to us.”

As part of the partnership, there will be several game-day promotions and giveaways during both USF’s football and basketball season. Big Frog will be introducing a T-shirt launcher, which will propel 3,000 shirts out to USF fans during men and women’s basketball home games.

In addition, the official kick off of the partnership between Big Frog and USF will take place at the USF’s home football game against UCONN on October 15th. During tailgating gatherings, flyers will be passed out with information on the partnership, and where people can order their T-shirts.

For those who are interested in getting one of the ‘Bulls Against Cancer’ shirts, Bacon-DeFrence says you can order them through Big Frog’s website.

For Good: Clearwater store donates shoes to those in need

Clearwater shoe retailer helps homeless women in need of shoes.

Peltz Shoes located in Clearwater, recently teamed up with the nonprofit Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP), and donated 200 pairs of shoes to be distributed to women's shelters and homeless shelters around the country.

“We chose to partner with the Homeless Empowerment Program because they have a diverse group of homeless individuals they serve,” says Dionna Thigpen, of Petlz Shoes.

HEP, which is also located in Clearwater, has been around since 1986. Their mission is to provide homeless and low-income individuals and families, with housing, food, clothing and other support services necessary to obtain self-sufficiency and an improved quality of life.

Peltz donated Naot shoes known for their fashion and comfort. The shoes have a unique anatomical footbed, which aligns with the contours of the foot.

Thigpen says this is the first year of the partnership between Peltz and HEP, however, they plan to do the event again.

“We honor our company's core value of caring for the community,” she says. “I think it's important to give those less fortunate an opportunity to be offered a quality shoe such as Naot. We also have a core value of caring for our vendors and this is a good way of showing partnership with Naot.”

While the donation event has ended, there is still time to help. If you would like to get involved, and donate to HEP, visit their website for more information.  

For Good: Safety Harbor merchants offer loyalty card discounts, donate to local nonprofits

The businesses of Safety Harbor have found an innovative way to give back to the community through a fundraising challenge. The Safety Harbor Downtown Business Alliance, Inc. (SHDBA) has launched a campaign to raise money for charities using a loyalty card.
 
“The campaign was designed to encourage excitement in the philanthropic community about supporting charities while saving money for their families at small businesses in Safety Harbor for a year,” says Karena Morrison, SHDBA charity challenge manager. “We began with 18 merchants and have added 9 more since the launch of the promotion of the challenge on May 1st. We are inviting more merchants in Safety Harbor to join our efforts.”  

The loyalty card can be purchased online via the SHDBA website, and buyers can then use the card to save at participating merchants.
 
Merchants include Live Fit Academy, Paradise Restaurant, Boutique 238, Practically Pikasso, Brady’s BBQ, Chi Chi Rodriguez Golf Club, Safety Harbor Chevron and Cold Stone Creamery.
 
In addition to the savings loyalty card members receive, they will also be doing some good.
 
“The merchants who were participating in the loyalty card program as of May 1st are also competing for votes, and the top three merchants will be offered the opportunity to select and donate a bonus to one of the approved charities in the challenge,” Morrison says. “100-percent of the proceeds from the loyalty card sales will be donated to approved charities and the SHDBA, Inc.”
 
Approved charities include My Hope Chest, Stop Bullying Now Foundation, Florida Autism Center of Excellence, RCS Food Bank, Suncoast Animal League, Paul B. Stephens Exceptional Student Education Center and the Safety Harbor Museum & Cultural Center.
 
For more information, or to purchase a loyalty card, visit the SHDBA website.

For Good: Walmart Foundation gives $100K to Pinellas charity

The Walmart Foundation gave $100,000 in June to Religious Community Services in Pinellas County as part of its $1 million Statewide Giving Tour. The grant was the only one given in the Tampa Bay area by the foundation, and the single largest one among 21 state recipients for 2015.

“We’re so appreciative of this,” says Caitlin Higgins Joy, RCS president and CEO. “It comes at a crucial time. We focus on the hungry, and summer can be an additional burden especially on families.”

Joy says the grant money will fund two “gently used” refrigerated food trucks that are needed for the nonprofit’s food distribution efforts through Pinellas County. They will replace aging vehicles in the current fleet.

“This is a vital part of our operation,” she says. “But it’s a costly investment. The grant gives us peace of mind that we will be able to upgrade our ability to deliver food.”

The RCS, founded in 1967 by 15 congregations, runs four programs that serve people struggling with hunger, homelessness and domestic violence. 

To meet its mission to help the hungry, the nonprofit delivers donated and federally subsidized food to more than 60 sites from St. Petersburg to Tarpon Springs five days a week. It also serves upwards of 5,500 people a month at its food bank in a Clearwater warehouse. Most clients are elderly people on a fixed income, struggling families or the underemployed.

RCS provides emergency shelter for families on the brink of homelessness for up to eight weeks at its Grace House apartments, and gives shelter and outreach services to victims of domestic violence at The Haven. 

In addition, it also operates a thrift store in Largo. Every sale benefits RSC programs, and all donated items, from clothing to furniture, are tax-deductible.

The charity now has 160 member affiliates, representing all different faiths. It depends on a wide variety of funding, from federal, state and local grants, private foundations and individual donors.

In the last fiscal year, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have given more than $82 million in cash and in-kind contributions to charitable organizations throughout Florida.

Its State Giving Program aims to support organizations that create opportunities so people can live better. RCS met those requirements with its programs.

This is the first time the retailer has gone on a statewide tour to roll out the grants to recipients.

Other winners so far include:
  • The Boys & Girls Clubs of Lake & Sumter Counties, Inc., Leesburg ($50,000);
  • Catholic Charities of Central Florida Inc., Orlando ($75,000);
  • Coalition for the Homes of Central Florida, Orlando ($50,000);
  • Community Food Bank of Citrus County, Crystal River ($50,000);
  • Promise Inc., West Melbourne ($25,000);
  • The Society of Saint Andrew, Inc., Orlando ($30,000); and
  • We Care Food Pantry, Inc., Homosassa ($85,000). 
Charities can apply for a grant by filling out an online application through the foundation’s website. Applicants must have a current  501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in order to meet the program’s minimum funding criteria.
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