Embracing Our Differences receives $2,000 grant from Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation

Funds to support organization’s annual Bucket Fillers Reading Day

Fruitville Elementary School students gather with Sarah Wertheimer of Embracing Our Differences and author Carol McCloud (at rear) for a Bucket Filler Day. Contributed photo

Embracing Our Differences has received a $2,000 grant from the Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation, Sarah Wertheimer, executive director of Embracing Our Differences, has announced.

The grant will help support the organization’s annual Bucket Fillers Reading Day, a news release explains. The Bucket Fillers series of books, written by nationally acclaimed author and Venice resident Carol McCloud, “teach children the value of kindness,” the release points out. In November 2022, 8,648 books were provided to 8,182 students and 466 classrooms and early learning centers in Sarasota and Manatee counties during this initiative,” the release adds.

“What’s a ‘bucket filler’?” the release asks.

“The ‘Bucket Filler’ books use the concept of an invisible bucket to encourage positive behavior and warm hearts,” Wertheimer explained in the release. “Each book shows children how rewarding it is to express kindness, appreciation, and love to others. The Sarasota Kiwanis Foundation is also passionate about making a difference for the children in our community,” she added in the release. “We are deeply grateful to them for their support of this program.”

“While Embracing Our Differences is best known for its annual international art exhibitions,” the release continues, the organization has year-round educational initiatives; those include professional development opportunities for educators, reading days, unity days and other learning initiatives and events.

These ongoing arts education programs “represent the most important aspect of our efforts – reaching and impacting the lives of thousands of students and teachers locally and around the world,” Wertheimer noted in the release. Since 2004, she added, more than 587,000 students have participated in the initiatives, “including 58,122 students and 1,981 teachers during the 2022-2023 school year alone.

“For 20 years, Embracing Our Differences [EOD] has drawn on the passion and perception of artists, students, writers, and others to create powerful statements of diversity and acceptance” in its annual outdoor exhibition consisting of 50 billboard-sized works of art and accompanying quotes, the release points out. “The scale and impact of this outdoor exhibition has continued to grow. In 2023, EOD presented two exhibitions in Sarasota County — one in North Port and one in the City of Sarasota. The exhibits attracted 320,616 people,” the release says, bringing the total number of visitors to more than 4.3 million since EOD’s launch in 2004.

The 2024 Sarasota exhibit will begin on Jan. 21, 2024 and end on April 14, 2024 in Bayfront Park.

For more information about Embracing Our Differences, call 941-404-5710, or visit www.embracingourdifferences.org.