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Commentary: Let’s work toward the brighter spring to come

This Thanksgiving season I am grateful for all people of compassion who give to help our neighbors in need. People like Janet Nye, who for 10 years organized a monthly food donation drive in her Escondido neighborhood to feed the hungry. Nye and her volunteers, the Second Saturday Club, would leave empty reusable grocery bags on the doorstep of 650-plus 比特币交易网homes in her neighborhood at the beginning of each month, returning on the second Saturday to pick up whatever food donations each family could offer. For years, it was regular donation drives like this that sustained the ongoing emergency food operations at organizations like Interfaith Community Services, where we use food assistance as the first part of a deeper conversation to “help people help themselves” through employment, counseling, medical care, addiction treatment, shelter, housing and more.

Like all of us this year, Nye and the Second Saturday Club had to pivot in 2020. With it no longer practical for dozens of volunteers to visit every 比特币交易网home in the neighborhood multiple times to collect food donations, Nye teamed up with local Realtor Geri Bekmanis to organize a “Touchless Donation Drive” in May. This was at the height of the food scarcity needs we were seeing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nye identified the food items needed most, and with Bekmanis’ marketing acumen, they reached hundreds of local families eager to help with one of the great crises of our time. The result was two simultaneous “Touchless Donation Drives” where more than 200 families donated more than 5,600 pounds of badly needed food via pop-up donation drive-through operations.

Like most charitable nonprofit organizations on the front lines of helping people in need, Interfaith Community Services relies heavily upon generous donors like Nye and Bekmanis. I am eternally thankful for the wave of generosity that allowed Interfaith to meet a 427 percent increase in the number of people seeking help for food and shelter in spring 2020. Since March we have spent more than $2 million on pandemic-related expenses alone.

A recent report on the state of nonprofits and philanthropy in 2020 by the University of San Diego found that despite an increase in charitable giving, only 14 percent of San Diego nonprofits were able to meet the increased demands amid the coronavirus pandemic. Yet public confidence in nonprofits remains high, and with good reason. The county nonprofit sector employs 125,828 people earning $7.82 billion in wages. Nonprofits not only address the biggest social challenges, they are an engine of positive economic activity for our region. And they need your support.

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Which is why I am thankful. I’m thankful for generous people like Nye and Bekmanis, who found new ways to give generously at the onset of the pandemic, and who most importantly are still giving today, when the economic needs caused by the coronavirus crisis are frankly much wider and deeper.

This last weekend Nye and Bekmanis teamed up for their latest act of generosity, “Share the Warmth,” a winter essentials donation drive powered by 87 participating families who donated hundreds of new beanies, blankets, jackets, gloves, sleeping bags, socks — warm socks — so needed! — and more.

This Thanksgiving season I am grateful for those who gave earlier in the year when the needs were so sudden and the nature of the coronavirus so unknown. Now as we enter a difficult winter with clear eyes and grave concern, I am grateful for those who are giving again as we work together toward the brighter spring to come.

Anglea is the CEO of Interfaith Community Services. He lives in Escondido.


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