Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lakewood Ranch's Main Street serves as venue for charities

By Nick Williams

On Main Street in Lakewood Ranch, visitors can enjoy shopping at various boutiques, eating at fine restaurants and watch the latest Hollywood movie at the cineplex.

And just by partaking in the venue’s monthly musical festival, visitors can contribute to many local charities that help those in need in Manatee County and surrounding communities.

Since January, $400,000 in donations have been raised for non-profits from events held on Main Street. The number includes money raised by organizations that have used the strip and the monthly ‘Music On Main’, a free concert on the first Friday of every month. Vendors at Music on Main give 10 percent of their earnings to a selected charity, which changes every month.

The shopping center has been involved with helping charities for the past six years.

A few of the organizations to hold events on Main Street include the American Diabetes Association, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Center for Autism Resources and Education and Take Stock in Children.

“It’s a great venue,” said Julia DeCastro, property manager for Main Street. “It’s the only one of its kind around here.”

DeCastro said the shopping center is rented to organizations at very minimal costs.

The Humane Society at Lakewood Ranch and Community Haven are just a few of the local charities the free concert has benefited.

“It’s helping the local community,” DeCastro said.

HOPE Family Services, a non-profit group that provides help to victims and survivors of domestic violence, will benefit from the Aug. 3 free concert.

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