Lynn Robinson, Executive Director of Valley Churches United, has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. In addition to the success of their Sidewalk Holiday gift shop, the association has a new list of benefactors to share their gratitude with: contributors to the Santa Cruz Gives fundraising event.
The holiday fundraising program founded in 2015 has encouraged tax-free and project-based giving over the past six years, which has led to a shift towards “modern fundraising” and supports non-profit organizations. lucrative area like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Santa Cruz Ballet Theater and Alzheimer’s Association.
This year, Robinson’s group is thrilled to be a part of the program.
“We don’t have the same notoriety as other large organizations, so we’re really happy to be in such good company. It is difficult to publicize our programs, especially when we are in a critical vacation period, so we appreciate the opportunity to share what we are doing, ”said Robinson.
The agency finds its place among other nonprofits in the website’s ranking, with nearly $ 800,000 raised since the fundraiser launched in November.
“Currently,” said Robinson, “we have about $ 5,000 in dedicated donations. If we could get close to $ 10,000 that would be a huge win for our program.”
Robinson reminds readers that the agency’s primary goal is to keep the community pantry stocked for those who need it year-round, but that need grows exponentially during the holidays.
“In November, we served 391 families and 785 people,” said Robinson. “These numbers are still increasing in December, so we appreciate any donation that comes in.”
In addition to keeping food on the shelves, the agency also provides financial assistance to residents in difficulty, with special attention being given to victims of the CZU fires.
While Santa Cruz Gives supports nonprofits of all sizes, its support comes from well-known giant sponsors like the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, Driscoll’s Berries, Santa Cruz County Bank and the Good time (sister publication of the Press banner). The 2020 campaign grossed over $ 700,000 and 2021 proved to be even more successful, making Robinson elated at the hardships she knows local residents have endured.
“There are 80 participating nonprofits, so we’re watching our own hometown find its place. It’s an honor to be a part of the program, ”she said.
But Santa Cruz Gives is not the only messenger of hope for Valley Churches United. Schools in the Scotts Valley Unified School District are organizing a canned food drive to benefit the association.
“We have been organizing the collection of canned goods for over 20 years; As of December 8, Vine Hill students have collected almost 6,000 cans, ”said Michele Sanguinetti, kindergarten teacher at Vine Hill School.
Brook Knoll, Scotts Valley Middle School, and Scotts Valley High School all participated in the event this year. There was no collection of canned goods in 2020 due to the virtual learning environment caused by Covid-19.
The classroom with the most canned goods collected will receive a trophy and pizza party, but the real winner is Valley Churches United.
“We are recognized for serving a part of the county that is traditionally underserved,” said Robinson. “I see how engaged the staff are at the right times and how determined they are to make this event a success. It’s a great experience for everyone involved, and for agencies like ours that operate with a small staff, we can disperse. Fundraisers like this can make all the difference for us.
Want to throw your checkbook in the ring? Santa Cruz Gives accepts donations until December 31st. To contribute, visit santacruzgives.org.