Sam Steele, Monroe County’s next tax collector, donates $2,000 in campaign contributions to Wesley House Family Services. Pictured, from left, are Lauren, wife; Carter, son; Steele; Audrey, daughter; and Aleida Jacobo, Wesley House CEO. CONTRIBUTED

Had there been a challenge this year, Sam Steele would have used his campaign contributions to support his run for Monroe County tax collector. He’s unopposed, however, and it led the next head of the tax office to donate funds to Keys charities.

Steele recently donated a little more than $14,000 to 14 charities, from Key West to Key Largo, in a show of support for various missions from children support services to family assistance. He told the Keys Weekly he gave the funds back to the community, as it was the right move considering the fact he’s running unopposed. 

“One of the hardest things about the campaign was raising funds, especially during the pandemic,” Steele said. “I know that a lot of nonprofits are seeking assistance right now. It’s a tough time for them with the amount they give back to the community.” 

Steele said several donors requested that he donate funds to charity. He also sent letters to all donors thanking them for their support and letting them know the funds went to charities. 

Receiving $2,000 in funds were Monroe County Stars of Hope, Wesley House Family Services, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in the Florida Keys and Take Stock in Children (the state matched the $2,000 for a total of $4,000).

Key Largo Lions Club, United Way of Collier and the Keys and Presents in Paradise each obtained $1,000 in donations from Steele. Sister Season Fund received just over $980. Sunset Key West Rotary, Fair Insurance Rates of Monroe, Samuel’s House, Inc., Florida Keys Land & Sea Trust at Crane Point and Habitat for Humanity of the Middle Keys received $500 each. 

“There are so many charities out there I wanted to help,” Steele said. “I wanted to give back to the ones I’ve been involved with the past several years and other ones, thinking about families and children and other charities that would help those who might be having financial struggles.”

A Florida State University graduate, Steele was introduced to the Florida Keys by his wife, Lauren, some 10 years ago. Currently serving as tax manger in the Monroe County Tax Collector’s Office, he announced his candidacy in late June following Danise “Dee Dee” Henriquez’s plans to enter the county commission race (she’s since backed out of the race and just recently retired as tax collector. Assistant tax collector Angela Hitchcock is managing the office through January unless Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Steele for the interim).

Steele was set to square off against Aileen Galvan, director of operations at the Monroe County Tax Collectors Office. She dropped out of the race in early June. She’ll continue to serve in her role at the tax office. 

Unless Gov. Ron DeSantis appoints Steele as the next tax collector before the end of the year, Steele said he’s ready to get going in his soon-to-be new role. 

“I’m very excited,” he said. “I’m truly honored and privileged to serve the county in this capacity. I want everything to run smoothly and efficiently as it has been.”

Steele delivers a $2,000 check to Monroe County Stars of Hope President, Major Tim Age. CONTRIBUTED

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