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Date of Issue: January 10, 2008

Islanders meet challenge for Center

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Chuck and Joey Lester

The Island community united in a campaign to increase donations to the Anna Maria Island Community Center in December.

Community donations for the Lester-Islander Challenge reached $56,382, according to Aida Matic, development director for the Center. The number also may go up as some late donations arrive via mail.

Annually at the end of the year, Holmes Beach residents Chuck and Joey Lester partner with The Islander newspaper to issue a challenge to Islanders to boost donations for the Center, 407 Magnolia Ave., Anna Maria.

The fundraising race traditionally begins with the arrival of Thanksgiving and continues through the month of December.

Donations in 2007 arrived at a slow pace until the final week of the challenge.

As of Dec. 14, the donations toward meeting the Lesters’ challenge had reached just $6,500.

But by early January, the Center had exceeded the goal set by the Lesters and the newspaper in the fundraising challenge.

Most of the money was earmarked for the Center’s building fund, which needed the boost after recently completing the construction of the new facility in Anna Maria.

Center officials expressed thanks to the community, the Lesters and their partner in the challenge, The Islander, which has promoted the annual challenge campaign since its inception in 1996.