Collier County’s Hometown Heroes

From saddles to STEM kits, read about how organizations throughout the area stepped up to help the community.

Lourdes Araujo supports the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center. Courtesy of Naples Therapeutic Riding Center

Neapolitan nonprofits rallied to respond to the crush of needs created by COVID-19 and continue to be both creative and caring as the community moves forward. The League Club, for example, gave $16,500 to the Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, which provides riding lessons and equine-facilitated group services for children and adults with physical, social, and mental needs. The grant will provide scholarships as well as overall support for the center, which lost revenue after programming was suspended.

Although the gift originally was earmarked for riding lessons, The League Club, which has awarded virus-related grants totaling more than $400,000 to 44 area nonprofits, made an exception. “Nearly all of our region’s nonprofits are experiencing disruptions to their programs and projects caused by the pandemic,” says League Club President Gigi Stewart. “Making these funds unrestricted in use is the best way we can help the organizations that our members voted to support, and we’re proud to be flexible enough to address this need.”

A child receives a STEM-based learning toy.

The Cal Ripken Sr. Foundation and the Naples Children & Education Foundation, meanwhile, partnered to help groups that serve young people by distributing at-home STEM kits and fitness packages. More than 650 students received items to help them focus on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; and about 200 pieces of fitness equipment were donated as well. “During this very challenging time, it’s important to provide kids with ways in which they can continue to learn and stay active, and hopefully what we’re doing is taking a small step in that direction,” says Baseball Hall of Fame member Cal Ripken Jr., who co-created the foundation to honor his father’s legacy.

Groups that benefited include the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County’s Bolch & Nichols Campus; Gargiulo Education Center; Grace Place for Children and Families; NCEF’s Out-of-School Time Initiative; and Valerie’s House.

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