By CRISTINA JANNEY
Difficult economic times mean some donors have less to give this holiday season, but more families are in need of the services provided by local charities, said Erica Berges, United Way of Ellis County executive director.
Giving Tuesday, which is celebrated the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a global effort to encourage charitable giving.
Berges encouraged local residents to give today during Giving Tuesday and through the holiday season to help fill the revenue gap for charities.
The United Way is in the midst of its annual fundraising campaign, and Berges said giving is lagging behind where it was at the same time last year.
The campaign is only about 30 percent to goal, whereas in 2019 the campaign was 60 percent to goal at the end of November. The United Way is still waiting on several large employers's pledges to be received, but Berges said she is concerned about the numbers.
The agency's goal this year is $380,000.
Many charities have also have seen decreases in revenue because they were unable to conduct fundraisers this year because of the pandemic.
"We are really needing the community to pull together and give this year," Berges said.
If United Way does not reach it's fundraising goal, less money will be available to distribute to its partner agencies and the agencies will be able to help fewer people, Beges said, adding there is a great need for services at this time.
"The support local, shop local is so important, so is giving local," she said.
You can see a list of the United Way's partner agencies for 2020 by clicking here.
United Way: Many ways to give
You can donate to the Unite Way at www.liveunited.us/, bring a donation to the United Way office at 205 E. Seventh, Hadley Center, Suite 111, or mail checks to PO Box 367, Hays, KS 67601.
You can also buy tickets for the United Way's Dine Out raffle for a chance to win one of three baskets with gift cards to local restaurants worth $400 each. Tickets are $5 each or five tickets for $20. Those tickets can be purchased online or at United Way office. The raffle winners will be drawn at noon on Dec. 14 on Facebook Live.
On Thursday Dec. 3 there will be a Dine Out Day at Professor's and on Dec. 14 there will be a Dine Day at Arthur's Pizza in Ellis with a portion of the proceeds on both days benefiting the United Way.
You can also donate to United Way if you are shopping online this holiday season using the Amazon Smile program. See the United Way's website for more details.
First Call for Help: Families struggle with the basics
First Call for Help, which provides food, rent and utility assistance, has seen an increase in need for its service, Linda Mills, executive director, said.
Many families had one or more household members out of work during the shutdown, and although many of those employees have gone back to work, families are struggling to catch up on bills.
In addition, families have been hit with losses of income because of quarantines.
First Call for Help received funds from the CARES Act to help cover the costs of expanded services. However, the longer the pandemic continues, the more need Mills said she thinks the agency will see.
First Call for Help is in the process of delivering non-perishable food from the annual Thanksgiving Feast grocery drive, so it does not need food donations at this time. However, the agency can always use diapers.
In addition to raising funds to support ongoing needs in the community, First Call for Help is also in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $250,000 for its First Step transitional housing program.
The agency is about half way to its fundraising goal. Concrete work on the project has already begun at the First Call building on 13th Street.
When the project is completed, it will include a four-bedroom housing unit with a small kitchen/common area, as well as a laundry area. Each room will be able to house up to three people.
To donate to First Call for Help or the First Step program go to www.firstcallelliscounty.com/ or mail checks or deliver them in person to 607 E. 13th St., Hays, 67601. First Call's lobby is closed to facilitate social distancing. You will need to call ahead to 785-623-2800 if you wish to deliver a donation in person.
CASA: Raising funds harder during pandemic
Tabitha Keith, CASA of the High Plains executive director, said COVID has limited CASA's fundraising opportunities.
The organization, which provides advocates in court for children who have been removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect, conducts its annual No Show Tea in conjunction with Giving Tuesday.
It is a mail and social media fundraiser, and you don't need to leave your house to participate.
More than 100 children annually are removed from their homes within CASA of the High Plains coverage area, which includes Ellis, Rooks, Trego and Gove counties.
"With your help, we can continue to provide essential services to abused and neglected children in the court system," Keith said.
Donors can send funds via mail to 107 W. 13th St., Hays, KS 67601 or online by clicking here.
If you can't give financially, you could give of your time. CASA is looking for both volunteers to serve as advocates and volunteers to serve on the CASA board. CASA has recently had to turn down cases for which advocates were requested because not enough volunteers were available.
Contact Keith at the CASA office at 785-628-8641 for more information on becoming a volunteer.
ARC Park pushing to reach goal for playground, splash pad
The ARC Park project is 6 percent away from its goal for the the first two phases, an accessible playground and splash pad.
If the group can finish the fundraising for the first two phases soon, equipment for the splash pad can be ordered in time for a scheduled opening by July 4, said Brent Kaiser, Arc of the Central Plains activities director.
"We think [the splash pad] is really possible by July 4," Kaiser said. "A couple of our big donations were contingent on 'Let's get this done by next summer.' That's our goal, and I really think we're going to get there. It is just a matter of getting those last dollars to come in to be able to cover it."
The equipment has already been received for the accessible playground. It is waiting to be installed.
"For us there a couple of pieces to this," Kaiser said of Giving Tuesday. "No. 1 is raising the funds. That is a really important piece to all of this because we know we have to have the funds to get there, but the other thing is to continue to raise awareness about our project, to continue to get it out there."
Kaiser said he and others with the project are aware some people in the community still don't know about the project.
"We know there are people who are looking to make donations at the end of the year," he said, "and we just want to be on that radar if possible. If not, then there are so many other great non-profits in our community as well."
Donation jars are available at all Hays Cerv's, as well as other area businesses.
The ARC Park is also sponsoring a Givebutter online fundraiser at givebutter.com/ARCParkGivingTuesday. Givebutter is like GoFundMe, but is designed for non-profits. Click on the link and share. The top fundraiser will win an ARC Park T-shirt or hat.
You can also donate at Hays ARC Park website: www.haysarcpark.org, on the The Arc of Central Plains Thrift Shop Facebook page or mail or deliver donations to The Arc of Central Plains, 600 Main St., Hays, KS 67601
See below for a list of other community organizations who are asking for donations on Giving Tuesday.
High Plains Mental Health
High Plains Mental Health is seeing an increased need for mental health services in Northwest Kansas, partly due to pandemic-related stress.
Tax-deductible donations can be made via Facebook or mailed to 208 E. Seventh St., Hays, KS 67601.
If you would like to give to Developmental Services, you can follow the link https://www.mydsnwk.org/donate.