2019 Give A Christmas: Give back locally on giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday is a time to remember your neighbors in need.

Right now in Bucks County, there’s a single mother who can’t afford to keep the lights on. There’s a homeless veteran shivering in the cold, in need of shelter and a leg up to start anew. There’s a woman struggling to find the strength to leave an abusive relationship.

These are just a sampling of the unpleasant realities that local nonprofits confront every day. More importantly, they’re the realities these organizations combat against, working tirelessly to transform the sad situations into stories of hope and, with a little luck, happy endings.

Still, it takes community support for area nonprofits to execute their missions. For many, charitable donations — be they money, volunteer service and/or tangible products — from individuals, families and businesses are essential.

And with Giving Tuesday nearly here, now is the perfect time for the community to step up and deliver what these charities desperately need.

Giving Tuesday, or #GivingTuesday as it’s often stylized to encourage social media exposure, falls on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving — Dec. 3 this year. The 92Y, a New York City-based nonprofit, conceived the idea. In collaboration with the United Nations Foundation, 92Y launched the holiday in 2012.

Giving Tuesday’s purpose is simple yet profound: Encourage people to set aside the commercialism of Black Friday, Cyber Monday and the like, and return to the true spirit of the holiday season by donating money, time and/or goods to charities and nonprofits.

The holiday’s purpose has found increasing success. In 2012, more than 2,500 nonprofits participated, which generated about $10 million in online fundraising, according to a Fast Company report. In 2017, giving totaled at least as high as $300 million, according to transaction data from online giving platforms and payment processors like PayPal, Blackbaud, and Facebook.

“We see a surge of donations on Giving Tuesday,” said Nicki Bedesem, director of communications at Middletown-based Family Service Association of Bucks County, a nonprofit that helps the homeless. “We run specific email and social media campaigns on Giving Tuesday, so people can easily click to donate. We receive donations from community members that are designated toward a specific program or project.”

Family Service Association is just one of the area organizations that locals can support. Another initiative to consider is the Give A Christmas Fund run by The Intelligencer. Administered by the Bucks County Opportunity Council, the fund delivers financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the holidays.

Ten percent of donated funds are shared with the Souderton-based Keystone Opportunity Council; together with the BCOC, they benefit folks in Central and Upper Bucks County, as well as Eastern Montgomery County and the North Penn and Indian Valley communities. Support includes everything from help with buying gifts and groceries, to paying for rent, medicine, bills and utility expenses.

“All of the funds raised through Give A Christmas go directly to local families and individuals,” said Tammy B. Schoonover, BCOC’s director of community services. “The generosity, care, and concern of the readers is incredibly impactful. Every donation is meaningful. Every donation makes a difference in someone’s life.”

That includes folks like 14-year-old Mike, his 10-year-old brother and their grandmother. The grandmother is the full-time caretaker of the boys. Bad breaks led the family to be evicted from their duplex. Unable to find a place they could afford, the family ended up “couch-surfing” for several months, with the boys often sleeping on floors. That changed when they came to the Keystone Opportunity Center, which helped situate the family in a home of their own.

“The support we receive on Giving Tuesday — and throughout the holiday season — enables us to help fight homelessness, hunger and barriers to education in Montgomery and Bucks counties,” said Malcolm Friend, director of resource development at Keystone Opportunity Center.

Other local nonprofits say Giving Tuesday provides a platform for increased support — support that gets translated into do-gooding.

Sometimes, the generosity is more hands-on than financial, and that’s fine with some organizations, such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County.

“We’ve had several companies donate their time to do projects, such as paint and make minor repairs, to the Victorian-era home that we’re based in,” said Sharon A. McCoy, customer relations specialist/community relations coordinator at Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County, which provides for one-to-one mentoring relationships between adults and youth.

McCoy continued: “We’ve also had individuals who have helped with office work or mailings, or who’ve created and supplied materials for a craft or other activities. We have a business that donates and assembles children’s bikes, which we distribute during the holidays.”

Elsewhere, the Doylestown-based Travis Manion Foundation has created a 2019 Giving Tuesday campaign that’s geared toward funding a Survivor Expedition, which involves several families of fallen military members coming together to serve a community in need as a way to honor the legacy of their late loved ones.

“We see an increase in donations around Giving Tuesday. We’ve taken Giving Tuesday and used it as a way for us to kick off our end-of-year giving,” said Derrick Morgan, director of marketing for the foundation, which aims to empower veterans and families of fallen military heroes to develop character in future generations.

A Woman’s Place, a Doylestown Township-headquartered nonprofit that provides free and private services to people experiencing domestic violence in Bucks County, said that the Giving Tuesday donations it receives are usually under $5,000, often falling in the range of $25 to $100. Still, “gifts made on Giving Tuesday are often from new donors, or are a second gift from those who donate a larger amount at another time of year,” said Rita G. Brouwer-Ancher, AWP’s director of development.

Furthermore, the significance of Giving Tuesday goes beyond dollars and cents for A Woman’s Place. This year, AWP is doing an email blast that offers details about all of its programs. “Giving Tuesday gives us an excellent opportunity to tell our story,” said Brouwer-Ancher. “It offers AWP another touch point to current and latent donors. The day’s impact is felt in the opportunity to share AWP’s story, in union with hundreds of other non-profits throughout the country.”

Said Morgan: “Giving Tuesday is a great resource for the nonprofit community because it reminds the public that the holidays aren’t just about buying the hot new item for someone on your list, but are really about keeping the ‘giving’ in the season of giving.”


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