Family Takes Action To Help Island They Love Recover From Ian

by SC Reporter Crystal Tisme

Carol and Kristin Crawford of St. Pete, Fla., co-founded Sanibel Strong, a non-profit designed to help the island post-Ian. Photo provided

Hurricane Ian left behind extensive damage to Sanibel Island, a place widely known for its amazing shelling, white-sand beach and focus on preserving nature and protecting wildlife. While the island is recovering from the storm, two people took action early on from a distance.

The mother-daughter duo Kristin and Carol Crawford of St. Petersburg, Fla., started Sanibel Strong, a non-profit organization designed to assist island residents, businesses and wildlife. The Crawfords felt a strong need to help the island they love to visit after seeing images of the devastation.

“It’s kind of like when you cross that bridge you leave all your troubles behind,” said mother Carol, “and reality gets left behind.”

For the past 35 years the Crawford family has visited Sanibel every year. It didn’t take long for them to fall in love with the sanctuary quality of the island. It started with a one-week family vacation, which quickly turned into numerous trips a year. Now, Kristin continues the Sanibel tradition with her own family.

“We consider it our home away from home, the peacefulness I feel there is something I want my family to feel and enjoy,” said Kristin.

After seeing the post-storm images of the island and realizing many lives were turned upside down overnight, Kristin and Carol discussed ways they could help from nearly 150 miles away. It resulted in the creation of Sanibel Strong and donating all of its proceeds directly to the island community.

“….I immediately started talking with my mom about what we can do to help Sanibel,” said Kristin, who has a talent for digital marking and experience running a non-profit, which made creating Sanibel Strong the perfect solution.

Their first focus is financial aid for island residents in need. Their initial goal is to raise $5,000 before opening up assistance applications. Aid for businesses and wildlife will follow.

Kristin also created an online store to sell Sanibel Strong merchandise with those proceeds benefiting the island community. Shirts, bags, drinkware and more have been made with the Sanibel Strong logo and come in different eye-catching designs.

To purchase Sanibel Strong merchandise or make a donation, visit

In addition to collecting donations and selling merchandise, Kristin and Carol are making a list of volunteers for when the time comes. Email to have your name added to the Sanibel recovery volunteer list.

Kristin said Sanibel Strong plans to be around for a long time after the island has recovered from the historical storm. “My focus long-term is to make sure anything Sanibel needs we can take care of it. We are here to help the people of Sanibel,” she said.

Comments (1)

  1. Colleen Phillips

    Love this Awesome way to give back & help the community! I have purchased several items from this site. Kristen continues to share all of the wonderful things she is doing & what’s happening in Sanibel on the Sanibel Strong fb page. Her mom’s artwork is Beautiful!! -Colleen

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