SANIBEL, Fla. — The Taste of the Islands fundraiser, an annual event hosted by the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), is set to make a return after being canceled due to Hurricane Ian last year.
This time, it comes with a new twist, and it goes beyond the islands of Sanibel and Captiva to involve off-island restaurants.
Taste of the Islands is renowned as CROW's longest-running fundraiser, and this year, the organization is thrilled to bring it back.
According to CROW's executive director Allison Hussey, the primary goal is to provide support to local restaurants while raising funds for CROW's wildlife rehabilitation efforts. With many on-island restaurants still rebuilding after the hurricane, the decision to include off-island establishments ensures broader participation.
"We wanted to make sure that the off-island restaurants who love and support Crow had a chance to support us as well," Hussey explained.
The fundraiser involves a unique approach where patrons can sample featured menu items at participating restaurants and cast their votes for the People's Choice award. If a particular item captures their taste buds, they can vote for it online or using QR codes provided by the restaurants. However, CROW encourages patrons to explore the full menus as it helps support the restaurants.
The funds raised during Taste of the Islands come from a combination of sponsorships from restaurants and community partners, along with individual donations. It's all part of a community effort to help CROW continue its mission of saving wildlife and rebuilding after Hurricane Ian.
The funds would go towards the reconstruction of major enclosures for animal patients that were damaged in the storm.
FOX 4 was there when the organization has broken ground on these projects, and they are expected to be operational in the spring.
CROW is also focusing its efforts on rebuilding its sea turtle facility, which was destroyed in the hurricane. This facility is crucial as CROW is the only licensed sea turtle rehabilitation center between Sarasota and the Florida Keys.
The event is not just about supporting CROW, but also aiding the struggling local restaurants, many of which have faced difficulties during the summer.
A "CROW Crawl" is also scheduled for November 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. During the CROW Crawl, trolleys will transport participants to various restaurants, allowing them to enjoy a diverse culinary experience while supporting a noble cause. The event promises free ice cream, beer samples from local breweries, games and a chance to meet CROW's animal ambassadors.
Taste of the Islands starts on November 5 and ends November 19.
For those interested in supporting Crow's mission or participating in Taste of the Islands, click here.