RICHMOND, Va. -- December 1 is “Giving Tuesday”, a day since 2012 that “encourages people to do good” and give back to their community through a variety of methods.
One of them is to give to your favorite cause or charity and it would be welcomed by those in the Richmond-area who have seen challenges and increased demand in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The year of COVID-19, has been interesting and challenging,” said Kim Martin, founder of the KLM Scholarship Foundation. “For Giving Tuesday, we're hopeful that people will keep us in mind and donate.”
Martin’s foundation, which was founded 18 years ago, provides book scholarships to college and university students in Virginia.
I'm very proud to say that we've distributed $384,745 in book scholarships and that money is raised by volunteers,” said Martin. “We've supported 28 Virginia colleges and universities, that's two-year and four-year schools. And to date, we've helped over 400 students.”
Martin said at the same time the pandemic has increased demand, it also led to the cancellation of two of their primary sources of fundraising.
“The Black and White Affair that we hold annually, as well as the RVA Holiday Day Party. And this year, we're not going to be able to host either of those events,” said Martin. “We're talking upwards of $50,000, if not more.”
Martin said they have moved some of their events online, including their 18th birthday celebration that happened on Sunday.
“We're continuing to party all week because we're hosting a virtual COVID-19 care basket raffle,” added Martin, who said it contains things like gloves, face shields, and disinfectant spray.
Martin credited the great team of volunteers that have pulled together and adapted to the changing times.
“We don't know what's going to happen next year, as far as when we'll be able to host another in-person event. So, in the meantime, we're just going to be creative and partner with everyone and just hopefully raise the funds that are needed for Virginia college kids,” said Martin
Little Hands Virginia
Another charity that has seen an increase in demand during the pandemic is Little Hands Virginia, which provides essentials to families with children up to the age of three.
“We were founded recognizing that there was a need in our community to help provide families with the basics things like clothes and diapers and gear, such as car seats and strollers,” said founder Taylor Keeney. “Our model is that we take in new and gently used items from the community, we store and bundle up the items, and then deliver them to families that need them.
Keeney said the non-profit, which was founded in May 2019, was expecting to see more growth as a new organization but the demands of the pandemic led to more than might have been expected.
“We now work with the Department of Health helping to provide essential items to families that are having to quarantine because they have COVID or came into contact with someone with COVID. And they can't just run out to the store,” said Keeney. “We work with more homeless shelters and domestic violence programs because they are seeing an uptick in people seeking shelter and seeking help.”
Keeney said prior to the start of the pandemic they were helping about 25 families a month, but early on in the pandemic, they were helping between 10-20 families a week.
Keeney said while demand has been increasing, donations of gently used items have exploded.
“I think a lot of people, especially early on in the pandemic, did a lot of cleaning out which has been fantastic,” added Keeney. “We like that people are cleaning out and passing on their gently used items so that another child can use them and that's what we’re all about — is repurposing a lot of items that kids only use for a couple of months and then grow out of.”
Keeney added that for Giving Tuesday, the non-profit is going to highlight all of the gear they have been able to donate to families this year.
“We’re calling it “The Most Wonderful Time of Gear", a little play on words there,” said Keeney. “Seventy-eight car seats that we've given out this year, the 72 strollers, the 44 pack-and-plays. All those big items that are so essential to keeping kids safe that are also really hard for families in need to just go out and purchase.”
Keeney said they are also currently holding their holiday drive called “Bundles of Joy” asking for donations of the basic items they provide to families like soap, lotion, diapers, diaper cream, wipes, clothes, and pajamas.
Salvation Army of Central Virginia
The Salvation Army of Central Virginia has also reported an increase of demand while seeing a drop in donations two weeks into its iconic red kettle campaign.
“About two weeks into our normal operation, we see we are lagging behind, We know that while we’ve got a lot of workers out, our volunteer numbers are just not quite as strong as that what they have been in the past,” said Salvation Army Captain Jason Burns, who added they have about a 20% drop in the number of kettle locations. “We are short at this point about $30,000 from last year. Our better days are coming, but, we also know that's a large number to try to make up in the next four weeks before Christmas.”
Burns said the request for services has risen by about 50%.
“The rent and the utility assistance for people who've requested that has dramatically increased. While there are some government funding to help with that, it doesn't necessarily cover all the need,” said Burns. “And we know as the the moratorium on eviction notices are starting to go away, people are getting caught in between needing to pay their rent, and then, also pay the other bills.”
Burns said there are many ways that people can donate to the Salvation Army.
“All of those are listed on our website if people wish to go to there. We have text options, we have the kettle pay option, the online virtual red kettle, and then the online donation options,” said Burns. “We're encouraging people to help us, to kind of top up the kettle, so to speak, by working with Giving Tuesday.”