Giving from heart: Area nonprofits thankful for Valley generosity

Area nonprofits thankful for Valley generosity

WARREN — The holiday season is the most important time of year for nonprofits across the country to bring in revenue for the less fortunate.

GivingTuesday, held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, represents the philanthropic holiday spirit of communities and donors who make a difference for those who need it. Local organizations such as the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, YWCA and many others take pride in raising as much money as possible through the end of the year.

“We’re already at 320 donors within two days from ‘Boost Week,'” Josh Medore, community impact coordinator for the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley, said. “A lot of those people are giving $10 to $20 to organizations. So you don’t have to be incredibly rich to help. It really is all about anyone who gives.”

“Boost Week” is a campaign that CFMV uses to bring in more donors during the holidays.

“During the first week of GivingTuesday and Beyond — Nov. 27 through Dec. 3 — the Community Foundation will give each participating nonprofit an extra $100 for every unique donor who gives to their fund that week,” a news release from the foundation states.

Medore said CFMV’s mission is to provide support to other nonprofits through grants and resources such as professional development, capital development and more.

“A lot of the organizations can struggle with fundraising,” he said. “This is a great way to continue supporting them. Our money was already set aside for this at the beginning of 2023.”

CFMV helps fund more than 30 organizations, including CityScape of Youngstown, which Sharon Letson, its executive director, said is critical for fundraising in small nonprofits.

“A number of our donors are very generous with us,” Letson said. “Typically our donors give to our year-end campaign, which is different from our full-year funds.”

Letson explained that because of the difference in types of funding, she could not yet give a holiday total.

“This year is different because ‘Boost Week’ gives us an opportunity to match gifts with an additional boost for costs,” she said. “So for a nonprofit like ours, this allows us to leverage our gifts. The community is already generous, and this opportunity is impactful for a giver and our community.”

Medore later added that CFMV did not expect the response it’s getting to Boost Week, as the total for donations through Wednesday reached $32,000, which represents the community and foundation’s matching, including $15,000 in donations.

Last year, CFMV matched donations of up to $2,000 per each organization’s fund. The money that was left over was divided among the organizational pool.

“It’s just another way to provide resources to ensure organizations continue to do great,” Medore said. “We’re friends with the actual GivingTuesday group. From this month through the end of the year, it is natural for people to want to give. It’s absolutely huge and it comes at the same time as many direct organizations looking to help the community. So it’s a very busy time in terms of work, not just raising funds. It’s sort of good that those things align because it’s a great way to show support to services and show that it matters.”

Jim McIntyre of the American Red Cross Northern Ohio Region said, in general, 30% of all nonprofits’ donations come during November and December.

“We pushed it pretty hard on social media, overall,” the regional communications director said about the American Red Cross and its national presence. But locally, he specified, “We won’t have those numbers until maybe the middle of January.”

McIntyre also addressed nonprofits’ needs of the public and its donations.

“We rely on the generosity of the American public all year long,” he said. “The holidays are a very important time for all nonprofits. Every one of them (American Red Cross offices) has a goal. Our fiscal year runs from July 1 to June 30, so December kind of falls right in the middle of that.”

Capt. Kiley Williams of the Salvation Army Warren Corps explained that GivingTuesday was “cold,” nonetheless, the group’s goal for bell ringing is $100,000.

“It’s a tiny bit compared to the full year,” Williams said. “We’re doing pretty good this year. Right now we’re at $28,000 of $100,000 in Trumbull County.”

The Salvation Army is motivated to help people every day, Williams explained. But for the next four weeks, or until Christmas, it will be focused on reaching this amount. “It’s the giving every day — and even giving all year — that helps us continue to give through the year.”

Lynn Wyant of the Rescue Mission of the Mahoning Valley said the organization raised $17,322 on Tuesday through 90 different gifts. She explained that there was no goal set for an amount to raise, but she hoped for $20,000.

“We did use a meal incentive, for $2.47, donors could receive after gifting,” Wyant said. “We fundraise all year long. And we’re a private company so we don’t receive any money from the government. Actually, 96% of our donations come from communities.”

The chief development officer further mentioned that the Rescue Mission’s fiscal year ended Oct. 1, and last year $218,186 was gifted as in-kind donations. She said with most of the funds coming from local residents, its work would not be possible without those gifts.

“We shelter up to 186 people every night, and we feed hundreds more,” she said. “Without the public and faithfulness to the Lord, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”

Justin Huyck, communications director for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Youngstown, wrote in an email on Wednesday, “In addition to Catholic Charities, the Diocese of Youngstown also helped parishes and schools throughout the diocese participate in #GivingTuesday through the #iGive platform. We are pleased that our Catholic parishes and schools received at least $46,500 in contributions, with some contributions still being counted.”

In the same thread, project manager Jennifer Lucarelli stated, “#GivingTuesday was just one part of our 60-day Season of Giving.” She then listed some of the results for the group’s fundraising efforts from Tuesday.

With a 24-hour goal of $20,000, the Youngstown Diocese received $16,126. In addition, 12 corporate partners pledged $10,000 in matching gift funds, along with 50 donors eligible for matching gift funds.

If residents missed a chance to participate in GivingTuesday through the diocese, they still have time to give back through its Season of Giving 60-day campaign.

“As we reflect on the spirit of GivingTuesday, we would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the generous donors, dedicated volunteers and hardworking staff who make our mission possible,” Lucarelli stated. “Their support fuels our efforts to provide help and create hope within our community. We would also like to express our appreciation to Bishop David J. Bonnar, whose inspiring leadership lights the way for us all.”


YWCA Chief Operations Officer Varada Bhide said her organization usually receives about $3,000 to $5,000 through the holiday season, which trickles into January.

“We have 102 housing units in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, so we depend on the generosity of the community,” Bhide said. “These donations help us provide for and serve the community. We can’t do it without donors. So we want to thank them and we hope they can provide meaningful gifts.”

Second Harvest Food Bank of the Mahoning Valley “tends to look at the holidays a little differently,” Executive Director Mike Iberis said. “We try to bulk up 160 pantries and provide more food and things applicable to the holidays.”

Because the local Second Harvest covers three counties, Iberis said, each pantry knows what folks in the area want during the holidays. He added that foods like turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce and seasonal pastries are a part of the festive approach to gathering more to supply.

“Our pantries provide food to other pantries, shelters, meal sites and women’s shelters,” Iberis said. “So monthly, we’re providing for 14,000 people. And those are families, so someone may come in and say, ‘There’s three of us,’ and that makes the difference. But during the holidays, it’s hard to separate from those numbers.”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.85/week.

Subscribe Today