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Good for Santa Barbara 2017: Noozhawk's 2nd Annual report on Nonprofits and Philanthropy
Sponsored by Montecito Bank & Trust
Good for Santa Barbara 2017

Santa Barbara County Organizations Use ‘Giving Tuesday’ to Kick Off Charitable Season

Annual holiday effort provides a jump-start for end-of-year donations for many nonprofit groups

Providing warm blankets to those in need is just one of the many services provided by the American Red Cross, which like many local groups used Giving Tuesday to jump start end-of-year donations. Click to view larger
Providing warm blankets to those in need is just one of the many services provided by the American Red Cross, which like many local groups used Giving Tuesday to jump start end-of-year donations. (American Red Cross photo)

The spirit of giving is present during the holiday season in Santa Barbara County, and especially on Giving Tuesday.

Nov. 28 marked Giving Tuesday, when people are encouraged — in the wake of Black Friday and Cyber Monday — to donate to nonprofits and charities.

The global day, now in its sixth year, is fueled by the power of social media and collaboration, according to GivingTuesday.org. In 2016, participants in 98 countries raised $177 million in donations to support a range of organizations.

“#GivingTuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy with events throughout the year…” a post on the official website says.

Santa Barbara County organizations are kicking off the charitable season and participating in the effort to give back this holiday season.

American Red Cross

This time of year is important for nonprofits, as donors are in the holiday spirit and look to make their year-end gifts, said Jessica Piffero, regional director of communications for the American Red Cross.

“For that reason, this year the Red Cross is encouraging our donors to give something that means something,” Piffero said. “A gift to the Red Cross can mean a warm blanket, a hot meal, or medications for those who are displaced due to disaster. There’s no better way to celebrate the holiday season than to give back to a local charity that is giving relief and hope to those in need.”

Piffero said the Red Cross launched a social media campaign focused around disaster relief efforts for Giving Tuesday.

“With a historical and unprecedented year for natural disasters, it was important to remind the community of all that we’ve done in 2017,” Piffero said.

Since late-August, the Red Cross along with partners, has provided more than 1.3 million overnight shelter stays — more than the past five years combined, according to Piffero. 

In addition to supporting the national disasters, Piffero said, the local Red Cross worked around the clock in 2017, providing relief to families affected by wildfires, including the Whittier and Alamo fires locally, home fires, landslides, flooding, and more.

Piffero said Red Cross volunteers are working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to provide relief to those have lost everything or been displaced due to disasters. 

The Red Cross is more than 90 percent led by volunteers, she said.

“This volunteer work includes every department and Red Cross service, including fundraising volunteers who provide critical support to our philanthropy team, Piffero said.

SEE International

Kate Bryant, vice president of development at SEE International, said the nonprofit is focusing on raising funds by encouraging people to give the gift of sight for their end-of-year giving.

On average, $50 is the cost to restore a person’s sight, Bryant said.

“Whether given as holiday gift in honor of a loved one, or as a meaningful way to make a positive difference in the world, giving the gift of sight also gives the gifts of independence, productivity, and hope for a brighter future,” Bryant said. “Children can to return to school. Adults can return to work and provide for their family. This is true for both the individual patients, their caregivers, and entire families.”

SEE International was participating in Giving Tuesday, and aiming to raise funds for its eye care program in Namibia.

Bryant said on Wednesday that SEE International had raised $12,240 for its work in Namibia in 2018, “and a few more gifts are still coming in.”  

“This is first time we’ve focused specifically on supporting one of our country programs on Giving Tuesday, and we’re thrilled it was so successful,” Bryant said. “In addition to helping provide eye care in the country, these funds will help us purchase vital surgical equipment that will be used on an ongoing basis.”

On Giving Tuesday, SEE International volunteer medical teams were providing free eye surgeries in four countries – Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Honduras. 

“We are very grateful for their support and hard work giving back to those in need,” Bryant said.

By the end of 2017, Bryant said, SEE International will have held more than 220 programs in 46 countries.

CALM (Child Abuse Listening Mediation)

Ashlyn McCague, annual fund director at CALM, provided a statement:

“CALM appreciates every opportunity to share our work with the community. We continuously work to engage donors in supporting the meaningful and impactful work at CALM.

"While we have not found Giving Tuesday to be financially successful, it is another chance to educate about preventing childhood trauma, healing children and families, and building resilient communities throughout Santa Barbara County.”

Santa Barbara Rescue Mission

The holidays are a special time at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. 

“Our needs are met throughout the entire year by a benevolent community, but even more so during the holidays,” said Rebecca Weber, director of communications at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission. “The first step to healing begins with a meal for our guests."

It begins around Thanksgiving time — when the Rescue Mission is inundated with community members requests to volunteer at the annual Thanksgiving feast. 

Weber said 25 volunteer positions are available at each of the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s two holiday feasts —Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s volunteer coordinator uses the overflow of volunteers to fill the volunteer spots serving dinner to homeless guests every night through the end of the year.

"It is during the holidays that we increase our budget to reach new donors who want to be part of our story of healing and restoration to our neighbors who struggle with homelessness and addiction," Weber said. “The first step for people to become committed volunteers and donors may be serving that meal. It’s a beautiful time to bring together people from different walks of life who may not otherwise cross paths.”

Weber said she was a volunteer in 1997, and was surprised when she called the Rescue Mission to volunteer for the Thanksgiving Feast. She was told the volunteer spots were full.

“I continued to plug in where I was needed and have loved my service as a volunteer for 10 years, and now on staff as the director of communications for the last 10 years,” Weber said. “The holiday feasts may be full, but there’s room for volunteers somewhere within the many things that happen under our roof to make it possible for people in need to receive the help they so desperately need and deserve.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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