WILKES-BARRE — Fueled by the power of social media, Giving Tuesday kicked off the charitable giving season with many nonprofit organizations hoping to benefit from the holiday spirit of giving.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.
Several local charities were participating in Giving Tuesday. The United Way of Wyoming Valley and the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind were two of those organizations.
Kathy Bozinski, director of Marketing and Communications at United Way of Wyoming Valley, said Giving Tuesday, now in its sixth year, is a national effort to play off the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, thus promoting GivingTuesday which is always the day after the big shopping weekend.
Bozinski said Giving Tuesday is designed to be strictly a digital presence, with all appeals made via social media, email blasts or through individual websites.
“As the Giving Tuesday concept is evolving, the organization suggests that you make a specific appeal for a specific activity, rather than a broad appeal like ‘support United Way,’ although some organizations still make the broad appeal,” Bozinski said. “With that in mind, this year, we’re focusing our appeal on a Book Fair that we’re planning for this coming spring.”
This is the first time the United Way is doing this project, Bozinski said. In the past, she said the organization has held a highly successful new/gently used book drive in April and May and then distributed the books collected to preschools, grade schools, community organizations, even doctor’s offices in bulk to be distributed to any and all children. She said that program will continue.
“This year, we are expanding that to include a Book Fair,” Bozinski said. “Most families in poverty can’t afford books for children. The national statistic that is often quoted is that the average young child living above the poverty line owns 13 books, while the average access to books for children living below the poverty line is 1 book per 300 children.”
Bozinski said the United Way Book Fair would use donations, including those from Giving Tuesday, to buy new books, and hold book fairs in Wyoming Valley schools/pre-school programs which serve predominantly low income children, so that the children can come to the book fair and select not just one, but several books to keep and take home to encourage reading and early learning.
Association for the Blind
Amy Marie Feldman, director of development at the Greater Wilkes-Barre Association for the Blind, said for GivingTuesday, the agency is encouraging donors to visit their Facebook page — https://www.facebook.com/AssociationfortheBlind/. She said any donation made through that fundraising page will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“This is great for donors because their gift of $25 is really a gift of $50 to our organization.” Feldman said. “It is also great for us as well, since Facebook will be covering the costs of the fees that are typically charged and deducted from a donation when one is given online.”
Donors may also contribute via the website: http://www.wilkesbarreblind.com/ — by clicking on the “donate now” button, which will direct donors to a PayPal donation page where they can enter their information and the amount they wish to gift.
“GivingTuesday is such a great way after the big shopping weekend to really remember what this holiday season is about — giving and thanks,” Feldman said. “It’s about giving back to agencies and organizations that help those in our community who need it.”
Feldman said all the money raised will go directly to help people who are blind or visually impaired achieve the best quality of life through compassionate, superior services and to prevent vision loss with education and early detection.
“We are committed to addressing the needs of blind and visually impaired individuals and to providing vision screenings and education programs for adults and children completely free of charge,” Feldman said.
She said the association’s services reach people of all ages and walks of life in Luzerne, Wyoming, Wayne and Pike counties.
“Every contribution made today or any day for that matter, stays local and makes a tremendous impact on the programs and services we provide to our blind and visually impaired clients,” Feldman said. “Whether you a donate $1 or $100, every little bit helps and we truly appreciate it.”