Want to make the world a better place? Consider starting with your own community.
This Giving Tuesday presents an excellent opportunity to do just that.
Created in 2012, Giving Tuesday occurs the Tuesday after Thanksgiving — this year Dec. 1. The global movement centers on encouraging people to do good by donating money, goods and/or volunteer time to worthy organizations and causes.
It’s a great initiative, but for some small local nonprofits in the Bucks County area, the day itself hasn’t traditionally triggered a huge surge in donations, nonprofit leaders said.
“We all believe that highlighting giving this time of year and recognizing the nonprofit industry and what it contributes to society is beneficial, but most small nonprofits don’t see an uptick specifically on Giving Tuesday,” said Joseph Cuozzo, development director at the Doylestown-based nonprofit Bucks County Opportunity Council (BCOC).
This year would be an ideal time to reverse the phenomenon and turn Giving Tuesday into a windfall for nonprofits like the BCOC, including supporting the 2020 Give A Christmas Fund, which the Opportunity Council administers on behalf of The Intelligencer.
“While Giving Tuesday historically hasn’t produced the same impact in Bucks County as it has for larger, national organizations, we do see an increase in donations after Thanksgiving and certainly value this community’s willingness to help their neighbors by donating to Give A Christmas,” said Erin A. Lukoss, CEO/executive director of BCOC.
Give A Christmas provides financial assistance to individuals and families in need during the holidays. Money not dispersed during the holidays is used to support locals in need throughout the year. Ten percent of the proceeds are shared with the nonprofit Keystone Opportunity Center.
Benefiting low-income people in Central and Upper Bucks County, as well as Eastern Montgomery County and the North Penn and Indian Valley communities, the fund provides a variety of assistance. That includes everything from help with buying gifts and groceries, to paying rent, medicine bills and utility expenses.
“Every dollar donated is a sign of hope for those who need it most,” said Lukoss. “The recipients of Give A Christmas are incredibly grateful and humbled by the generosity of strangers.”
Due to the economic and public health hardships caused by COVID-19, the need for assistance among local residents has grown tremendously in 2020.
BCOC’s food assistance pre-COVID ran 300 to 400 per week. Earlier this year, the organization was up to 1,300 to 1,400 per week, with numbers still elevated recently at about 900 to 950 each week.
In the first quarter of BCOC’s fiscal year, the nonprofit had of late helped 635 people with eviction prevention, as compared to a total of 945 people for the entire fiscal year of 2019-20.
The story is similar at Souderton-based Keystone Opportunity Center, another nonprofit focused on helping economically vulnerable community members.
“The number of children and families who have reached out to us has grown exponentially since March,” said Malcolm Friend, director of resource development at Keystone Opportunity Center.
“These truly are exceptional times. Our community, our neighbors, are hurting as they seek the most basic needs of food, shelter and education. We ask for an exceptional response not just this Giving Tuesday, but throughout the Give A Christmas campaign.”
Individuals, families, businesses and other organizations make Give A Christmas possible through donations. This year’s goal is to raise $140,000. Over the 32 years of the program, Give A Christmas has raised roughly $3 million, helping thousands of locals.
Even if Give A Christmas (or BCOC and Keystone) isn’t your chosen donation, nonprofit leaders encourage area residents to find other locally-based nonprofits/causes to support with monetary or volunteer-time donations.
There are great ones from which to choose, from United Way of Bucks County and the Family Service Association of Bucks County, to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Bucks County to community food pantries, such as Pennridge FISH, which also offers clothing and emergency financial assistance.
“Think about what you are passionate about and find an organization that works with those issues,” said Cuozzo. “If you are looking to donate, check out their website to see what’s the best way to do so. Look for ways to get involved that work for the charity. Maybe you can volunteer if they need that. Contact the charity to see what their needs are.”
Added Friend: “Whether it’s making someone smile, helping a neighbor out, showing up for an issue or people we care about, or giving some of what we have to those who need our help, every act of generosity counts and everyone has something to give. Pick a cause that gets you fired up — a local organization that makes a difference in the lives of your community — and give back.”