Giving Tuesday spurs local donations

‘Tis the season of giving, although the feeling can get lost in the shopping sprees of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday serves as a catalyst aimed at shifting the focus back to helping others and giving back to the community.

Locally, Heritage Humane Society, Literacy for Life, the United Way of Greater Williamsburg and the One Child Center for Autism were among the 17 area organizations participating in the international movement Tuesday.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Darci Vanderslik, marketing manager for Heritage Humane Society. “We feel very honored to be part of something that gives back and makes a difference long after the holidays have come and gone.”

Giving Tuesday launched in 2012 as an international day devoted to giving money, goods and time to community organizations, charities and events following consumer-driven shopping days such as Black Friday.

“Quite frankly, this season is all about giving, but it has turned into something that is more consumer-based,” Vanderslik said.

On Tuesday, Heritage Human Society received $61,000, more than double what they made the previous year.

“That completely blew our minds,” Vanderslik said. “It was an outstanding success. We broke every record that we’ve ever had for that day.”

The money will go toward funding the shelter’s urgent needs, such as paying medical bills.

Tuesday marked the first time The Arc of Greater Williamsburg participated in the event. The nonprofit serves adults with developmental disabilities in the area. Executive Director Pam McGregor was pleased with the online response via Facebook and email. She expects more tangible results next year, as word continues to spread.

“It just made you feel good that people were aware of it,” she said. “I think it was very positive.”

McGregor said the initiative helps smaller nonprofit groups because people see them listed among others with which they’re more familiar.

“I think the timing is good for a lot of smaller nonprofits,” said Amy Sikes, development coordinator at Literacy for Life, which participated in Giving Tuesday for the first time this year. “It can give you a nice year-end boost.”

Sikes said nearly a third of the money raised Tuesday came from their own clients. She praised the Giving Tuesday website, which she said helped guide nonprofit groups through the process of promoting their endeavors of the day. Overall, she was pleased with the day’s outcome.

“That was a complete experiment for us,” she said. “We were very excited about the results.”

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Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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