This year marks the 10th anniversary of KAIR – Keys Area Interdenominational Resources. It’s hard to believe that KAIR has been in Marathon for ten years. It’s not hard to believe, however, that they have helped so many families get through tough times. They’ve been there for families after hurricanes and disasters, and right now they’re helping out local families caught up in our economic hard times. There’s a special KAIR event happening on Saturday, October 17, and I’ll tell you more about that later in the column.

For those not as familiar with the work that KAIR does, here’s a little KAIR 101. From their website “KAIR is a non-profit organization seeking to serve those individuals and families in Marathon and the Florida Keys who have found themselves in crisis. Working in partnership with other agencies and organizations, every effort is made to return people to self-supporting, productive lives.”

KAIR’s main mission is the distribution of food to people who need help. KAIR is a USDA certified food pantry, and they get their food through donations from Publix and various food drives, as well as fund-raisers and donations from the community. Right now, KAIR is distributing over 7,000 pounds of food each month, a need that has doubled during the last year in this horrible economy.

As we approach the holiday season, it’s worthwhile to note that KAIR provides Thanksgiving and Christmas Feast Baskets to local families right here. Last year, 250 Keys families who might have gone without had Christmas dinner thanks to KAIR and the donations of our locals.

KAIR also assists people who have fallen on hard times in so many other ways, in areas like medical and dental, help with transportation or basic needs, school supplies, and help with legal documents so that people can start work. Their goal is to assist through the hard times and help people move forward toward again becoming financially independent.

Executive Director Marj Roberts, along with her board and volunteers, coordinate the distribution of resources to those who need help. But help can’t come without donations from the community. If you can donate time, money, or goods that KAIR needs, they’ll be more than happy to help you help others. KAIR has started a very successful fundraising event, the Sombrero Beach Run. The 2010 Run is scheduled for Saturday, March 6, 2010, and they’re accepting applications right now. This past year’s Run attracted over 350 runners, some of whom came from as far away as Norway! To find out more, or to register for the 2010 Run, visit KAIR’s website at

Right now, during this off-season, Marj told me that the cupboards in the food pantry are running low, and they really need help in providing basic needs. This is where donations from the community can really make a difference in the lives of local families. You can help by calling KAIR at 743-4582 and offering to donate or volunteer.

Another way to help is by doing some early Christmas shopping at the Tropical Island Outlet on Saturday, October 17. We’re going to do a special event from 11 AM until 3 PM, and 50% of all proceeds taken in that day will be donated to KAIR. Please mark this date on your calendar, and be sure to stop by our shop. I’ll be there to help Marlene, and we look forward to seeing a lot of fun people who want to lend a helping hand and get some holiday shopping out of the way! I look forward to seeing a lot of you there!


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