First came Black Friday. Then, it was Cyber Monday. Now, on what’s been dubbed, “Giving Tuesday,” charitable organizations are asking that people switch gears and spend money to better their communities.
Kathy O’Hara, a spokeswoman for United Way of the Midlands points out, “The size of the gift is less important than getting involved and giving what you can because when thousands of us give… it makes a huge difference. All those gifts combine to make a lot of difference in people's lives."
United Way is still working to make their $3.1 million fundraising goal by year’s end. “We’re not there yet, so we’re really looking to people who haven’t given yet to think about it,” said O’Hara.
"United way donors help us support a critical safety net of services. Things like shelter, food, physical and mental health services, to make sure these services are available across the community."
O’Hara said, “Everybody who lives and works in our community will benefit when people are stronger and more independent, when their health is better… It makes our community stronger. People are able to be more independent and stand on their own and then offer a hand up to someone else.”
The 211 Call Center is part of that massive effort, connecting the needy with programs and organizations to help them make ends meet.
Jermaine Blackson, one of the paid call center workers, described the job as rewarding. In fact, he enjoys helping people so much, he volunteers to do so in his spare time, through his church. "A lot more people that are in the position to give back should,” he said.
That’s just what Edwin Benson of Omaha thought, when he signed on to ring bells for the first time with the Salvation Army this week. "Nothing else going,” he said. “I had nothing else to do. I decided to go ahead and try it out." That whim is helping to make a difference, his time proving just as valuable as a monetary donation.
The Salvation Army’s bell ringer numbers are down by 20-percent this year. The unmanned kettles, Divisional Director Susan Eustice said, “The kettle without a ringer is unlikely to garner donations. Thus far we are at 27% of our $3.1 million goal.”
She added, “We are signing up lots of ringers but instead of ringing the suggested four hours shifts, they tend to ring for just 2 hours.” Eustice said she’s hoping to see more families, civic groups or businesses step up to share four-hour shifts.
"It feels good. It makes me happy inside to be able to give back like this," said Benson.
Click on the links below for organizations in need of donations or volunteers. This is the first of what charities hope will become an annual day to promote giving back.