Nonprofits begin push for the holidays

Photo by Dean Humphrey—Al and Kathy Pfister look through the list of charitable organizations that were beneficiaries of the Alternative Christmas Fair on Sunday at the Lincoln Park Barn in Grand Junction. The annual event is sponsored by Grand Valley Peace & Justice.



Whether it’s because the deadline for making tax-deductible donations is near or because people are getting end-of-the-year bonuses at work and getting into the giving spirit, Grand Valley Peace & Justice Executive Director Julie Mano believes the holiday season can be lucrative for nonprofit organizations.

The social justice group, based at 253 White Ave., does its best to pair that seasonal generosity with local nonprofit groups at its annual Alternative Christmas Fair, which took place Sunday at Lincoln Park Barn. Shoppers could donate to 55 vendors at the fair and receive a card telling a holiday gift recipient that money had been donated in their name to provide food at a local soup kitchen or to buy a school uniform for a Ken-yan orphan, to name two examples of offerings at the fair.

Holiday shoppers can still browse the list of nonprofits through Dec. 16 and make a donation as a holiday gift by searching the Grand Valley Peace & Justice website, gvpeacejustice.org, calling the organization at 243-0136 or visiting the White Avenue office.

The timing of the fair coincides with a spike in donations that Community Food Bank at 486 Morning Glory Lane would normally see anyway. November and December are two of the busiest months of the year for donations at the food bank, according to Community Food Bank Board President Tom Eatwell. They’re also the two months when the food bank receives the most requests for food assistance.

Any seasonal giving is appreciated. Like many nonprofits, Eatwell said, his is struggling. Demand has slowed for food assistance since hitting a peak in 2008. But the food bank is still on pace to serve 171,000 meals to 19,000 people this year.

“This definitely helps pump it up,” Eatwell said of the fair’s effect on donations. “Last year we raised $2,500 here” out of an annual budget of $100,000.

Like the food bank, Elaine Johnson, board member and fundraising chairwoman at Roice-Hurst Humane Society, 362 28 Road, has noticed the animal shelter sees a spike in donations around the holidays.

“(Donors) look at their animals that are fortunate and think about the animals that are less fortunate. And it’s cold out. It’s a hard time for homeless pets,” she said.

Winter can be a busy time for Grand Valley Catholic Outreach at 245 S. First St., which also had a booth at the Alternative Christmas Fair. The soup kitchen will soon see an increase from the usual 300 people it serves daily, according to Catholic Outreach Financial Manager Nancy Lancaster. She said people tend to forget the summer months and the time when children return to school are hard as well for people in need.

“Christmastime is the time we see most donations when we need it year-round,” she said.

But some nonprofits don’t see a big swing in charitable giving during the gift-giving-centric months of November and December. One of those is Habitat for Humanity of Mesa County, 225 N. Fifth St., Suite 200, according to its grant writer and family support director, Jeannine Bechard. Events like the Alternative Christmas Fair have helped turn that around, she said, as well as a slight improvement in the local economy.

“I think as the economy has turned around, more people are giving to nonprofits,” Bechard said. “(The fair) does end up being a nice donation for Habitat each year.”


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