Giving Back During Holidays Takes On New Importance During Pandemic

Non-profit organizations working for the community will have to prepare for an increase in demand and a possible shortage of resources during the 2020 Christmas season due to the pandemic. What they found surprised them: Residents gave back more generously than ever, with donations rising from $ 1.97 billion in the U.S. in 2019 to $ 2.47 billion in 2020 on Tuesday, and groups like Toys for Tots in northwest Michigan received twice as much money as last season. Community groups hope to repeat this success this year as well, with Toys for Tots starting its fundraising campaign this weekend and numerous other non-profit organizations intensifying the charitable work for the holidays.

Mike Kent, assistant coordinator for Toys for Tots of Northwest Michigan, says the organization distributed over 30,000 toys to over 6,000 children in the 2020 season. “The number of toys has increased dramatically,” he says. “The amount of money donated has also increased exponentially. We typically receive about $ 30,000 in financial donations; We received well over $ 60,000 last year. ”That increase enabled Toys for Tots, the 15 different agencies it worked with across the region last year, to budget to order toys directly Reduce the number of touchpoints for products (a helpful safety measure during the pandemic) and respond more effectively to community needs.

According to Kent, Toys for Tots believes that local “demand will rise again this year if you just look at the economy and COVID”. On Saturday, the organization kicks off their vacation drive with drive-through toy collection events at Great Wolf Lodge, Bill Marsh and Fox Grand Traverse from 12pm to 2pm. Toys for Tots will distribute 1,500 tickets for the Great Wolf Lodge water park at the three locations on the principle of “first come, first served”, in exchange for donations for new, unpackaged toys. A Toys for Tots bus will also be stationed in front of Burger King at Traverse City Meijer on Friday, December 3, from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., with Meijer settling all toy donations received on that day. On Wednesday December 1st, The Ticker is hosting a special Recess of Giving event at Fox Grand Traverse from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Entry is a new unpacked toy or $ 10 with all toys and the entry proceeds going to benefit Toys for Tots. Fox Motors will match any monetary donations received at the event.

Kent notes that Toys for Tots has heard from both local and national sources that supply chain issues could affect toy availability this Christmas season, so encourages families to shop early – both for themselves and those in need. “Right now the stores have toys, but we know there aren’t a lot of toys in the funnel,” he says. “We’re not sure what the offer will look like over the course of the season.” Donations are also helpful for this reason, says Kent, and can be made online here. Families in need can also use the link to register and request toys for Christmas.

Supporters have already joined forces this season through another local nonprofit, Child & Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, to help local families. The organization runs a yearly campaign called Paper Angels, where residents accept “wishlists” for local families and buy gifts for those families. According to the Child & Family Services website, all wish lists for 2021 have already been taken over by community members. However, the organization continues to accept donations for its Angel Fund, which helps provide last-minute gifts “for children who will be taken care of just before Christmas” and other essentials for families in need.

In addition to the start of Toys for Tots, numerous other local programs and events will start next weekend to help needy neighbors during the holidays. On Saturday at 12:00 noon, Norte will host its fourth annual cranksgiving event, a “part bike ride, part food ride,” collecting groceries for the grocery rescue in northwest Michigan. Individuals or teams meet at the Norte Wheelhouse in the Grand Traverse County Civic Center to collect a list of groceries and then cycle to local stores to collect those items and bring them back to the clubhouse. There is no entry fee, but teams should plan to spend $ 25 on groceries. Registration is possible here online or on-site on the day of the event. In 2020 over 50 teams took part in cranksgiving and collected over 2,500 pounds of groceries for local pantries. Northwestern Michigan College students are also helping local families for Thanksgiving this year by distributing 50 meals to families identified by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Michigan and an additional 75 meals to college students in need on Monday.

On Saturday, Cuppa Joe will host a community-wide Coffee with a Cause event to raise funds for the Northwest Michigan Coalition to End Homelessness. Customers can visit any Cuppa Joe location in Traverse City all day on Saturday, and 10 percent of each location’s daily proceeds will go to work to end homelessness in northern Michigan. Also this weekend, an anonymous donor agreed to donate up to $ 15,000 to the Groundwork Center by midnight Sunday to support local food, clean energy, and walk-in / wheeled community solutions. The Groundwork Center is halfway through its fundraising goal and has raised more than $ 9,200 by Thursday.

Giving Tuesday is the next important calendar event for local nonprofits on Tuesday, November 30th. In Traverse City, Silver Spruce Brewing Company is partnering with Traverse City Tourism to hold a special fundraiser for TART Trails from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. TART staff will be on hand to raise funds and share the organization’s mission, and $ 1 for every pint sold will be donated to TART. TC Tourism will match all donations made that day at the event or online up to $ 5,000 to TART. Munson Healthcare, facing unprecedented demand as a COVID-19 wave rocks the region, also has a matching gift offering from a donor this year. All donations made to Munson Healthcare Foundations on Giving Tuesday will be doubled up to $ 80,000 and will support a variety of services ranging from patient financial aid to hospice support to medical equipment upgrades.

After a notable absence in 2020, fundraisers on the theme of holidays are back again this year. The Up North Media Traverse City Turkey Trot will return in person on Thanksgiving morning to raise funds for TART Trails, while the CherryT Ball Drop is set to return downtown to traverse the city on New Years Eve and benefit from the food rescue. Both events will also support the Festival Foundation, the nonprofit that hosts the National Cherry Festival and several other local events. The Village of Kingsley will also host an all-day Christmas in Kingsley celebration on December 11th, including drive-through visits with Santa, a Christmas crib with a live Angel Gabriel, a Reindeer Trails poker run, a chili -Cook-Off, a two mile Jingle Bell Fun Run and a Lights of Love memorial service in honor of the deceased. The event also includes free carriage rides from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in exchange for cash or food donations (rides begin and end in the free parking lot on M-113 across Elm Street from Veterans Memorial Park). All cash and food donations will support the Kingsley Methodist Church Food Bank.

Photo credit: Toys for Tots of Northwest Michigan

Comments are closed.