Nonprofit hits $20,000 jackpot on Facebook

Online contest leads to windfall

Natalie Reeder, left, an administrative assistant and Teresa Hansow, fulfillment coordinator for Light Gives Heat, help run a local nonprofit dedicated to improving the lives of women living in Uganda.



Think social networking is a waste of time? Think again. For one local nonprofit it was instrumental in securing a $20,000 blessing.

Light Gives Heat, an organization dedicated to helping women in Uganda by selling their handmade necklaces here in the U.S., won a national Facebook contest this week sponsored by Chase Community Giving, a foundation sponsored by JP Morgan Chase and Co.

More than 2.5 million Facebook users voted for their favorite organizations in the online contest, with the top vote-getters receiving a piece of the $5 million the foundation is giving away.

“This just means so much for our documentary,” said Natalie Reeder, administrative assistant with Light Gives Heat. The organization has been working on producing a full-length documentary titled, “Moving On,” featuring the necklace-makers who live in Jinji, Uganda.

Light Gives Heat founders David and Morgan Hansow are in Uganda working on the film and “were ecstatic” to learn about winning the contest, said Teresa Hansow, fulfillment coordinator for the organization.

Reeder said some last-minute social networking efforts pushed the organization into the final top 200 contestants.

“We were only three votes away from getting knocked out,” she said of their standing Tuesday evening, just before the final deadline for the contest. Reeder and Hansow sent a flurry of e-mail messages to all of their friends and business associates, begging for their votes.

Wednesday morning, the group learned it finished in 181st place with 1,544 votes and would receive $20,000.

“We’ve been working incredibly hard to earn this money,” Hansow said, adding the organization currently is having a yard sale in its warehouse at 2507 Weslo Ave.

The organization estimates it will need $100,000 to fund the film, and it is seeking 2,000 partners willing to donate $50 each.

Chase Community Giving gave $20,000 gifts to more than 200 winners from 34 states and Washington, D.C. The winner of the grand prize was the Harry Potter Alliance in Somerville, Mass., which received $250,000.

Light Gives Heat plans to finish the documentary by October. It is an important component to its marketing and awareness efforts as it will be used to introduce people to what the organization is all about.

The film will focus on recognizing the hardships many of the women in the program face, but it also will acknowledge their choice to move on toward a more beautiful life. The film is about humanity being a common link that bonds the world, organizers said.

View the movie’s trailer at http://www.movingonmovie.com or http://www.lightgivesheat.org.


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