Goodwill spreads holiday cheer to local veterans in need

Goodwill Manasota and event sponsors provide festive meal, gifts, and information during holiday lunch

Published Friday, December 16, 2016

Veterans_Holiday_LunchSARASOTA/BRADENTON, FL – On December 13, Goodwill – in partnership with the Gail Baird Foundation – hosted a festive holiday lunch for more than 50 homeless veterans from Sarasota and Manatee counties. Highlights included a delicious lunch of hot turkey and fixings prepared by Zildjian Catering, gifts, and educational information about housing, employment opportunities, and area food banks. The event took place at the Goodwill Manasota Veterans Service Program offices on Lockwood Ridge Road in north Sarasota.

Jennifer Steube, wife of incoming State Senator Greg Steube, welcomed the veterans. Goodwill Manasota director of the Veterans Services Program, C.J. Bannister, explained the wide variety of services offered through the program. Representatives from Career Source Suncoast and Jewish Family & Children's Service were in attendance to help the homeless veterans with housing and job search needs.

The Baird Foundation contributed cozy fleece jackets for all veterans in attendance. The honored guests were also given “Patriot Shoeboxes” – these included a wide variety of toiletries and health items as well as non-perishable food items – which were donated by Goodwill Ambassadors and members of the community. Insignia Bank contributed 25 of the Patriot Shoeboxes. Five bikes with locks, donated by Goodwill, were raffled off to veterans who were already enrolled in or who signed up for Goodwill's Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.                 

"We are proud to partner with Goodwill to help bring holiday cheer to our veterans," said Eric Baird, president of the Gail Baird Foundation. "A large part of our mission at the Gail Baird Foundation is to enrich the lives of veterans and it is wonderful to see the number of services Goodwill Manasota provides to local veterans and our entire community."

Through the Veterans Services Program, Goodwill Manasota works to help returning servicemen and women reintegrate back into their families, communities and jobs. In its three years of operation, the program has connected more than 1,500 veterans with necessary social services, provided emotional and physical support, offered free employment services, and distributed funds for emergency needs through its SERV (Special Emergency Resources for Veterans) program. Goodwill offers holiday recognition and programs as just one way of giving back to the heroes who have sacrificed so much for us.

"Our organization works hard to provide much-needed programs and services for our returning heroes because we believe that veterans deserve to be recognized for their many sacrifices every day – not just during the holidays,” said Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota. “We are grateful to the Gail Baird Foundation, Insignia Bank, our Ambassadors, and all who contributed to provide some much-needed holiday cheer for these deserving veterans.”

For more information about Goodwill’s Veterans Services Program, go to or call (941) 355-2721, ext. 451.


PHOTO ID: (From l-r, front row) Veronica Brandon Miller, vice president Goodwill Manasota; Sara Rachon, manager for Gail Baird Foundation; CJ Bannister, director of Veteran Services at Goodwill; Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill; Eric Baird, president of Gail Baird Foundation; Edwin Robinson, Goodwill Manasota Veterans Services advisor; (From l-r, back row) Michael Marzella, Goodwill Manasota Veterans Services Coordinator; Maribeth Phillips, CEO of Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee; Jennifer Steube; Grant Herren, portfolio manager, Baird Inc.


About Goodwill Manasota

Goodwill Manasota is an industry-leading, 501(c)(3), not-for-profit organization that changes lives through the power of work. With the sales of donated goods and philanthropic donations, Goodwill is able to assist people with disabilities and other barriers to employment by providing job skills training and employment opportunities. In 2015, Goodwill Manasota served 22,739 people, placed 961 people in jobs and assisted 358 veterans as they reintegrated back into the civilian workforce. Goodwill Manasota’s economic impact back to the community is worth $81.3 million. Goodwill is one of the pioneers of the reduce-reuse-recycle movement and this past year diverted 41 million pounds out of the landfill. We accomplish our mission through a network of Good Neighbor Centers in Sarasota, Manatee, Hardee and DeSoto counties and our Mission Development Services (MDS) around North America. Goodwill Manasota is accountable to a local Board of Directors. Goodwill Manasota, in essence, belongs to this community and is not owned by any individual or company. For more information, visit