Monday, July 13, 2020

Diamonds are bedtime bundles best friend

Board member Robert Reilly with Kelly Capolino, Founder of Diamond Award. Submitted

Board member Robert Reilly with Kelly Capolino, Founder of Diamond Award. Submitted

By Gina Sisbarro

Bedtime Bundles receives a diamond as in the “Kelly Capolino Diamond Award” for non profits. Ms. Capolino is an independent realtor with Keating Associates. As Kelly stated, “I used to be able to donate a lot to nonprofits. With the change in the real estate economy I can’t do what I used to do.” With that said she decided to use her marketing skills to help get the word out on all the wonderful nonprofits that exist throughout Collier County.

Kelly simply looks for what she calls a “warm fuzzy.” You don’t need to submit a ten page report on numbers, outreach and outcomes, you just need to write her foundation and tell her what your organization is doing to help those less fortunate than you. She knows when a foundation has touched her heartstrings when the goose bumps run up and down her arms and she gets that warm, wonderful feeling. Then you are a recipient of the Diamond Award (Kelly chooses three per year.) Kelly and her team host a beautiful cocktail party for the recipient and all the volunteers involved. In addition to the beautiful plaque received, Kelly and her team market your organization through press releases to various newspapers, magazines, radio promotions, and just about every media contact that is well within her reach. It is her hope the organization will attract the attention it so rightly deserves and draw a larger fan base with donations and volunteers.

Bedtime Bundle volunteers and board members were out in force to receive their award on February 10th. Kelly wasn’t the only person in the room who was drawn to the organization due to “warm fuzzies.” Many of the volunteers were driven by the warmth and caring spirit of Bedtime Bundles founder, Ms. Karen Saeks. Most of the first volunteers who were taken by Karen’s vision belonged to the Newcomers Club on Marco Island. Karen shared her dream with many of her fellow members who jumped on board immediately, such as Trish Brauninger and Cheryl Mueller. Trish explained how she volunteered to paint the office and within two days she was hooked. The best way to volunteer is to recruit more volunteers and that’s exactly what her job became. She co-chairs with Inge Hoell. Cheryl said it was the “invisible population” that caught her attention. “We feel so blessed living on Marco Island, but the perception is only the wealthy reside here. I couldn’t believe the numbers that existed right in our own little island who were needy.”

Sandy Carinci agreed, “The needy are right around the corner.” The number of migrant children who attend Manatee Elementary and Middle School astounded her. Sandy explained it doesn’t stop with the bundles. “There is a group of us who collect bread from Publix on a daily basis for these families.” They have also added Starbucks on their list of food suppliers who are happy to donate day old goods versus throwing them away.

One of the hardest jobs is fundraising which is the task of Co-chairs Denise Rose and Donna Wadsworth. Marco’s most “yappiest event” called Mutts and Martini’s is the brainchild of these two ladies. The one thing Marco Island has a lot of is animal lovers. This is the perfect afternoon out with your pet, to get dressed, enjoy delicious food and drink and help raise funds by having fun!

Rob Reilly, one of the board members, accepted the award on behalf of “Bedtime Bundles” in Karen’s absence. Rob was misty eyed as he gave a brief history of the organization’s beginnings. “We came from a garage (Karen’s garage), and just knew we had to take the next step. It’s amazing to see what we have come from and what we became. When we first started we delivered a few hundred bundles, today the number is 1,967.” Rob was able to rattle off every item that is packed inside the pillowcase, which serves as a suitcase for the children. There are fourteen items, some coming in multiples such as socks and underwear.

Rob was happy to acknowledge all the volunteers as well as two ladies who represented Seminole Casino. The casino has committed $25,000 every year to Bedtime Bundles. Considering each bundle costs $40.00, it allowed for a larger outreach and provision for more children.

The bottom line is you never forget what made a difference in your life. In Karen’s case she never forgot the bundle that was left at her own door as a child during the Christmas season. It contained the necessities in life, food and basic items. The person who helped Karen has no idea that little gesture left a lasting impression on a little girl who grew up never to forget.

Anyone wishing to volunteer or donate can contact Bedtime Bundles 239-393-3415 or info@bedtimebundles.org

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