PASCO COUNTY, Fla. -- The Pasco County Tax Collector's Office "Charity of the Month" drive reached a milestone recently: more than $800,000 collected during the past six years for local non-profits.

  • Pasco Tax Collector's Office "Charity of the Month" drive reached $800,000 in donations
  • Effort began in 2013
  • More than 70 local non-profits have received donations

"Never did I think when we started this that we would be raising this kind of money," said Pasco Tax Collector Mike Fasano. "It's the generosity of our customers and the good work by our employees, I think, come together, blend together very well."

Fasano started the effort shortly after becoming tax collector in 2013. His office serves anywhere from 40,000-50,000 customers among its five locations every month, and he said he wanted to see what would happened if he asked them to help do some good. Canisters sit at each station along the counter where staff waits on customers. 

"Many of them might have some change, might have an extra dollar, five dollars. They put it in the bucket," Fasano said.

People renewing their car or boat registrations can also donate by mail.

Proceeds go to a different charity each month that's doing work in Pasco County. More than 70 have benefited from the drive, and Fasano said there's a wait list of organizations that want to be featured. He said Assistant Tax Collector Greg Giordano checks in with agencies before they're chosen.

"Visits with them, talks to that charity, wants to know exactly how they'll be spending that money -- making sure that those dollars are going to go to not just administrative costs," Fasano said.

Among those that have benefited are CARES, the One Community Now Hunger Walk, and the Humane Society of Pasco County.

"We did get a little over $11,000, which was an absolute amazement to us that people had donated that much," said the humane society's president, Suellen Szesysiski. Fasano said his office usually collects between $7,000-$12,000 per month. 

Szesysiski said the humane society's current headquarters is more than 30 years old and in disrepair. She said they've been saving for years to build a new shelter, and the $11,000 donation amounted to a quarter of what they'd managed to put away.

"Everytime we think we're getting a little ahead, we end up with huge vet bills," Szesysiski said.

"Many of these charities are those who don't get much money," said Fasano. "They get very little, maybe, or nothing from the state or the county or the federal government, so any little bit helps.

This month's charities are the Thomas Promise Foundation and the Red Apple School.