by Mike Henry

Over the last 15 years, Tampa Bay Downs has focused its charitable giving on organizations that benefit citizens living in the track’s immediate footprint.

So when Vice President of Marketing and Publicity Margo Flynn learned of plans by Oldsmar Cares leaders to construct a new building to strengthen its community outreach, Flynn and track officials were eager to participate.

On Thursday, Flynn announced that the racetrack will donate $50,000 toward construction costs for the new building, which will include an expanded food pantry; a large food-storage room and clothes-closet area; space for tutoring children; and an office for career counseling. A shower and a washer/dryer will also be available.

Construction of the new building is expected to begin later this spring. Plans have been drawn for a 3,000 square-foot structure to be built adjacent to Oldsmar Cares’ current location at 163 State Road 580 W.

“Oldsmar Cares has been a valuable resource in the northwest Tampa Bay community for 20 years, and we have been pleased and proud to offer our support in the past,” Flynn said. “We have witnessed the positive effects of the organization’s work with needy residents and are grateful for an opportunity to assist them in their mission.”

Oldsmar Cares is a non-profit, volunteer organization that operates as a stop-gap resource for individuals needing a hand up, providing food, clothing, a toy chest, stop-gap rent and utilities.

Oldsmar Cares also assists with children’s dental care; Christmas gifts; weekend meals; emergency assistance; holiday feasts; job placement; and other acts of community service.

“This enormous endeavor is possible only with the service, commitment and financial support of many individuals and companies, and Tampa Bay Downs is playing a key role in this endeavor,” said Oldsmar Cares board member David Wallace.

“We are very proud of our seven-year relationship with Tampa Bay Downs and the important financial and emotional role they have played in our success. Their contribution of $50,000 is a true testament to their over-and-above commitment to Oldsmar Cares and the residents of Oldsmar.

“We will be forever grateful to Margo Flynn and (Tampa Bay Downs President) Stella Thayer for their outpouring of service and support in our community,” Wallace added.

Since 2003, Tampa Bay Downs has given back to the community by donating more than $1.5-million to local charitable groups. The list of recipients includes organizations that provide educational scholarships; child care for abused youth; recreational opportunities; outdoor camps for the challenged; horseback riding for developmentally disabled individuals; and hospital comfort visits for terminally ill children.

Tampa Bay Downs also contributes to worthwhile causes within the Thoroughbred industry through research grants, retirement programs and jockey health-and-safety initiatives.