‘Our Community Will Keep Showing Up:' Vermont Nonprofits Grateful for Support on ‘Giving Tuesday'

Several agencies said the need for support remains critical during the coronavirus pandemic

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Vermont's governor asked people who can to consider participating in Giving Tuesday, the charity movement which reported raising nearly $2-billion for U.S. nonprofits on the day in 2019.

"In a year when so many are hurting, please consider donating to a local charity, your food bank, rescue, shelter, or nonprofit, to help those in need," Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vermont, said during a briefing on the state's response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Vermont nonprofits say support from their neighbors remains critical.

Feeding Chittenden, which provides groceries to food-insecure people in the Burlington area, said demand for services has shot up 38% during the pandemic.

"A lot of those people are newly unemployed and using a food shelf for the very first time," added Anna McMahon of Feeding Chittenden.

Because of that need, McMahon was thrilled to welcome a visit on Giving Tuesday from the CEO of O'Brien Brothers, a real estate development and property management firm, who dropped off a $10,000 donation.

"This is going to be a long winter, for, I think, a lot of people," Evan Langfeldt said after dropping off the company's check. "You see your neighbors, you see family members, you see fellow businesspeople that might be either having to reduce their hours or even shutter their business, so we just know that people are going to need help this year."

McMahon said the money will go even further thanks to bulk food-buying strategies.

O'Brien Brothers also gave $10,000 to a project of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association that helps people afford their home heating bills.

Steps to End Domestic Violence told NECN and NBC10 Boston its calls are also up during the pandemic. The agency attributes the increase in part to challenges connecting with friends or relatives during the era of physical distancing, which means some people cannot stay at someone else's home if they need to for their safety.

The group is about to open new, secure housing for people leaving their abusers, so Giving Tuesday was aimed at generating support for outfitting those living spaces.

"I have no doubts—our community will keep showing up for us," predicted Nicole Kubon, the executive director of Steps to End Domestic Violence.

The organization acknowledged, however, that some prospective donors may be less able to give, because of changes to their own financial circumstances caused by the pandemic.

"It's not all about the money," Kubon said, noting how much the organization benefits from donations of time—as it will on a gardening effort planned for next spring. "People who are able to give money have been so generous, people who can't are reaching out asking, 'How can I get involved? What can I do? What do you need?'"

Smaller gifts are also appreciated in uncertain economic times, according to the organization, as well as donations of used cell phones that still work well and can be provided to survivors.

"Every little bit counts," Kubon said. "A $5 donation can help us buy bathroom supplies for a room."

Middlebury's Town Hall Theater said gifts will enable online offerings to continue during the shutdown as well as set the stage for programming for what comes after.

During a time where both restaurants and residents could use a little help, this Maine nonprofit got creative.

"We don't know how many months it'll be until we can reopen," said Lisa Mitchell, Town Hall Theater's executive director. "We believe that the arts are not just entertainment, but they're also, frankly, kind of a mental health outlet. It brings us joy, it brings us connection."

Mitchell said the organization has been really touched by monetary donations as well as messages of encouragement and compliments about programming over the past eight months.

These three organizations, along with so many others, now hope the support continues long after Giving Tuesday.

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