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‘The Amazing Give’ Supports Local Nonprofits With 24-Hour Fundraiser

Nandy Stuart and Erica Merrell of Peaceful Paths pose for a photo taken by Lesley Banis. Peaceful Paths won a prize for having donors from all 50 states donate to their Amazing Give efforts. (Celeste Cardone/ WUFT News)

This year marks the third year of The Amazing Give fundraiser, but the impact on local nonprofits will be felt for much longer.

The event, hosted by the Community Foundation of North Central Florida, is a 24-hour online fundraiser seeking to raise money for local nonprofits in the area.  The 24-hour period begins today at 6 p.m. and concludes on Thursday at 6 p.m.

Lesley Banis, director of programs for the foundation, said the event raised more than $280,000 in 2016. In 2017, donations bumped up to $850,000, and for this year those numbers are expected to rise again.

“Donors in the county look forward to giving,” Banis said. “They know it’s coming.”

Barzella Papa, the president and CEO of the foundation, sees the impact the fundraiser has made on participating nonprofits.

“Each year it has continued to grow,” Papa said. “For example, Boys and Girls Club [of Alachua County] credited The Amazing Give for getting them a new roof last year.”

The fundraiser allows the community to see various causes and the dedication by local organizations. The Amazing Give has 85 nonprofits participating this year, a step up from the 75 that participated last year, Banis said.

The Amazing Give this year will run from 6 p.m. on March 21 to 6 p.m. on March 22. (Celeste Cardone/ WUFT News)

“It’s very important, especially for small nonprofits who don’t have staff to host big events,” said Joyce Wilson, the executive director of Unity Family Community Center, Inc. “It gives you a chance to let the community know what you’re doing.”

Unity Family Community Center is new to the fundraiser this year. The organization, located in Williston, is dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk youth. The center operates on state and federal grants, leaving little room to pay for other expenses vital to their mission, Wilson said.

“We don’t have the funds to take the kids to a movie or to a sporting event or to provide educational trips,” she said.

Wilson said the van, which the organization relies on to transport children to summer event, was recently stolen and totaled. The donations they receive from The Amazing Give will go toward purchasing a new van.

“If we don’t have this opportunity through The Amazing Give, we won’t be able to provide any of our services,” Wilson said.

Another nonprofit, Operation Catnip, has participated in the event since it began in 2016. The organization provides free spay and neuter to free-roaming cats in Alachua County. It also offers hands-on experience for University of Florida veterinary students.

Audrey Garrison, the executive director of Operation Catnip, sees the impacts of the fundraiser. Cat caregivers take advantage of Operation Catnip’s resources because of the donations from The Amazing Give.

“We have a caregiver that doesn’t have a single cat she feeds that isn’t fixed,” Garrison said. “Those are the kind of things that are really great for us.” 

The organization was able to use donations from the 2016 event to create a new program providing emergency critical care for cats in the community, she said.

The event not only showcases the nonprofits in the area, but is an active way for community members to give back to organizations.

“Philanthropy helps not just the organization, but it helps the people, too, because they get to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Garrison said. “It’s not just for us, the people can be a part of something that is fun and exciting. I think its great.”

About Celeste Cardone

Celeste is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.

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