Christmas carol

Clients of the Disability Action Center sing a Christmas carol during choir practice Monday. Singing carols is one way the organization gives back to the people who donate to the nonprofit.

FAIRMONT – After the events of Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, shoppers may want to find another way to spend what’s left in their wallets.

Today’s Giving Tuesday is an opportunity for anybody to open their heart, and their wallets to a cause or nonprofit.

Since its founding 2012 as a project of the 92nd Street in New York City, Giving Tuesday is sort of like Christmas Day for charities. Now a separate organization, Giving Tuesday harnesses the power of activism and social media to encourage others to support their communities.

In just seven years, the organization says it’s helped raise more than $1 billion for charities in the U.S. and around the globe.

“Days like Giving Tuesday are very important,” said Patrick Snively, annual campaign co-chair for the United Way of Marion and taylor Counties. “Maybe people will see it as a chance to give to the United Way and help out the supported agencies.”

The United Way of Marion and Taylor Counties helps fund more than two dozen agencies, and its annual campaign is where the brunt of that funding originates. While many nonprofit organizations in the two counties receive funding from the United Way, some have their own Giving Tuesday initiatives.

“A lot of our funded partner agencies are taking part and doing individual campaigns,” Snively said. “Whether it be for this United Way or other United Ways across the country, Giving Tuesday is an initiative that can help to benefit the community.”

Some organizations are taking advantage of Facebook’s donation feature, because the social media site will match up to $7 million in eligible donations in recognition of Giving Tuesday. Supplemental education nonprofit Learning Options Inc. is one Marion County organization that has started a Facebook donation campaign, because the organization operate primarily on donations and grants.

“Learning Options certainly needs the support of the community,” said Mary Ellen Sullivan, educational program coordinator for Learning Options Inc.

According to Chris Nielsen, executive director of Learning Options, the nonprofit recently lost funding from Art4Moore, because that organization would no longer be funding its grant program. Without this grant money, Learning Options will have to purchase supplies on its own, so Nielsen started a Facebook fundraiser to help cover those costs.

“We were getting that each year since 2014 from Art4Moore,” she said. “That is how we used to replenish supplies at our learning centers, which means that those supplies didn’t come out of our budget. If anything, this is just going to help offset the loss of that grant money.”

The Disability Action Center as well started a Facebook campaign, which helps the organization have a good end to its year, but also a good start to the new year.

“We have a campaign going through Facebook for Giving Tuesday, and we have done this every year that they have had it,” said Julie Sole, director of the Disability Action Center. “Really, we just want to promote the fact that the donations are going towards our Christmas program and to get us off to a good start in 2020.”

Sole said the DAC has received donations from individuals and businesses in the past, with Rite Aid being one of its main supporters. However, she said the drug store no longer has a donation program, so the DAC has to find consistent funding elsewhere, so the staff turned to its online community.

“In the past, we’ve not only had the matching funds from Facebook, but Rite Aid was a match for that as well,” Sole said. “We won’t have that this year, so we’re kind of on our own strumming that up.”

Once the funds start to roll in, Sole said they help to supply the DAC clients with Christmas gifts and the meal for its annual Christmas party.

“It goes towards things that our clients may need at Christmastime,” Sole said. “Our Christmas dinner and program which, we give out lots of gifts and a wonderful meals to our clients, and of course it’s a boost for 2020.”

With only about a month left for the United Way to reach its fundraising goal of $500,000, Snively said he hopes donations from Giving Tuesday can push the total raised closer to that goal.

“At the midway report, we were just a little over halfway as far as fundraising had gone, and we have done a little in the meantime to help bolster that,” Snively said. “So for United Ways in general, Giving Tuesday is another opportunity for folks to give if they have not yet to help out their local organizations.”

Appreciative of the donations, Sole said the DAC is happy to give back to the community as much as it receives.

“We’re constantly trying to give back,” Sole said. “We have some girls who are working on our partnership with LIFE United Methodist Church and they’re making ornaments for them... We want to help others too.”

Email Eddie Trizzino at etrizzino@timeswv.com and follow him on Twitter at @eddietimeswv.

News Reporter

Eddie Trizzino has been a reporter with the Times West Virginian since August of 2017, covering the entertainment, business and health beats. He spends most of his time listening to records, going to the movies and strolling through the town.

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