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 Nonprofits
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companies about how to provide many differ-
ent resources, whether that’s financial resources, human resources, or opportunities to engage with our organization in a way they might not have previously. Treasures of time and talent are just as important as financial donations.”
She cited a recent effort by the Employ- ers Assoc. of the NorthEast (EANE) to support
“It’s difficult to ask an organization or a smaller or mid-sized business to make a donation or think philanthropically when they themselves are trying to figure out how to keep the lights on.”
MHA’s Good to Go program, which provides basic personal-care items to hundreds of people. Lee said EANE and MHA have been partnering all year to promote greater understanding of the impacts COVID-19 has on people served by each organization.
“That’s a huge contribution for a program that has really suffered during the pandemic because so many companies are prevented from coming back together,” Lee said, noting that companies, even those operating remotely, should think cre- atively about ways they can support nonprofits, from contributing design services to helping with social media — and just helping spread the word.
Because, again, the needs are greater these days. UMassFive College Federal Credit Union has been running a winter coat and cold-weather clothing drive in its Hadley and Northampton branches throughout the month of December, part of an effort to ensure that all community members have access to cold-weather clothing, which will be distributed in partnership with the Amherst Survival Center.
“The public-health and economic crises caused by COVID-19 have hit hard. Not only are many individuals and families struggling, but many of the resources our neighbors can turn to have had to shift their focus,” said Lev Ben-Ezra, executive director of the Amherst Survival Center, adding that the organization had to temporarily close its community store during the pandemic as it focused on its food and nutrition programs. “But we have remained committed to distributing core essentials — items like coats, sleeping bags, underwear, socks, and long johns.
“Now is truly a time of ‘every bit counts,’” he added, “and we are grateful for all the ways the community is stepping up to support each other.”
Meanwhile, Country Bank donated more than $130,000 to local food pantries throughout 2020, recognizing a growing problem of food insecurity across the Commonwealth. The Greater Boston Food Bank recently reported that food insecu- rity in Massachusetts reached an all-time high
in November. In fact, the state has experienced a 59% increase in need since 2018, represent- ing more than 1 million people in need of food assistance.
“The pandemic has undoubtedly placed a strain on our local food pantries. As a community partner, we are fully committed to helping those
in need throughout this pandemic,” said Jodie Gerulaitis, vice president of Community Relations at Country Bank.
Andrew Morehouse, executive director of the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, said the bank’s $20,000 donation is more than welcome during a critical time.
“With this support, we’ll be able to provide 40,000 meals to households struggling to make ends meet and put healthy food on the table,” he said. “For every dollar donated, we provide the equivalent of four meals.”
Keep It Going
In short, nonprofits need help, and there are many ways to give it, whether financial or with a contribution of time and energy.
Back at the Northampton High School shelter last winter, volunteers’ compassion and inventive- ness only grew, Davine said. As guests began to feel cooped up, volunteers responded by creat- ing activities and events—such as a poetry slam, movie nights, and hot Sunday breakfasts.
“They made pancakes, waffles, eggs,” she said. “One volunteer offered a craft night. She brought in supplies and facilitated a project. Many of them didn’t just work their shift. They got involved.”
And nothing happens unless people get involved.
“We were very successful in helping to find shelter volunteers last year,” said John Bidwell, executive director of United Way of Hampshire County. “We hope area residents will partner with us again this year and sign up to help.” u
Joseph Bednar can be reached at bednar@businesswest.com
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