By QUINT QUALLS and SAMANTHA HEARN
This time of year, it’s pretty normal to spend a lot of money. Giving Tuesday is a way to give back.
With Black Friday and Cyber Monday offering discounts of up to 60 percent off, many shoppers end up treating themselves, friends and family, and that sometimes means spending a lot of money.
A different trend has popped up on the radar during the past few years called Giving Tuesday. It’s essentially a way for communities, charities, families and businesses to come together to celebrate generosity and give.
They donate to global charities, sometimes even giving on behalf of someone else as a Christmas gift, or give a to an alma mater or alumni association. Some also support a United Way agency or another local cause.
Here are just some of the many ways to give around the community this year:
Brentwood High School student Ben van Maarth wants individuals and local businesses to use Giving Tuesday to donate to the Nashville non-profit JAM Advanced Music Camp, a place where aspiring musicians age 13 to 21 can connect with each other and professional instructors.
“The JAM encourages and challenges us to learn and grow, and helps us feel comfortable performing to an audience,” van Maarth said in a press release.
This year, van Maarth won the Grand Prize at the Williamson County Fair “Sing Your Heart Out” competition, and he credits his success to what he learned at JAM. Other students from JAM have gone on to participate on The Voice and play at Bonnaroo.
JAM takes place at Ensworth High School in Nashville for two weeks in the summer and aims to provide an environment of total music immersion, using music as a tool to nurture passion, empowerment and goal-setting habits.
“We believe it changes lives,” JAM’s founder and director, Laura Hill, said in the release. “We build strong connections with our youth and connect them with their peers in their community and beyond.”
JAM needs donations because it offers scholarships to students who can’t afford the camp. Its projected expenses for the year are more than $78,000, including facilities fees, equipment rentals, repairs and replacements of instructions, microphones, PA systems and lighting. In 2013, JAM offered 20 scholarships for a total of $4,800.
Funds are also needed for yearly expenses, mailing, promotion, festivals, educational resources and special events.
The camp also hosts out-of-town students, including one from Australia last year, adding another expense for campers. Staff and management also get paid, and the camp is stocked with 12 keyboards, four drum kits and extra amplifiers for guitarists to accommodate the out-of-town students.
To learn more and donate to JAM, click here.
According to Cheryl Stewart, vice president of marketing and communications at the United Way of Williamson County, Giving Tuesday helps provide exposure to the many opportunities for the public to serve the community.
Currently, United Way has more of a need for volunteers than donations, due to upcoming volunteer programs.
Stewart said the organization is particularly in need of volunteers for an after school tutoring program for second-, third- and fourth-graders. There will be an upcoming training session in January before school starts up again after the holiday season.
The tutoring assistance program allows volunteers the opportunity to coordinate with teachers at elementary schools in College Grove, Franklin, Spring Hill and Thompson’s Station in order to reinforce current lessons.
According to Stewart, training involves a two-hour session and volunteers can choose to tutor on just one day or multiple days, and the weekly tutoring sessions last for about an hour and 30 minutes.
United Way is also in need of help with its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that allows low or middle-class families to get free help with filing taxes by volunteers who receive training from the Internal Revenue Service.
Training for the VITA program, which runs from January through April, is near the end of December and beginning of January, according to Stewart. The four VITA sites include the Williamson County Public Library, Fairview Public Library, College Grove Community Library and the GraceWorks Ministries building in Franklin.
If interested in volunteering in one of United Way’s programs, visit www.uwwc.org/volunteer.aspx.
GraceWorks Ministries, a Franklin-based Christian nonprofit, is also looking to benefit from Giving Tuesday because the holiday season is their busiest time of year, according to Jeff Fuqua, communications manager.
“Tomorrow is significant as #GivingTuesday is a large-scale effort reminding people of the impact they can have on the world,” Fuqua said in an email on Monday. “Since GraceWorks is a non-profit focused on those in need in Williamson County, we rely on our donors to not only support us financially but give of their time as volunteers or through donating items we sell in our stores. #GivingTuesday adds to the awareness we strive to build throughout the year.”
According to Fuqua, GraceWorks’s The Manger program, which allows families to choose holiday gifts in a “store-like” environment, is in need of unwrapped gifts and volunteers.
The Christmas Food Basket program, the goal of which is to deliver food to 1,000 families in Williamson County, is also in need of both donations and volunteers.
“These needs are in addition to our year-around programs such as the food pantry and utility and rent assistance,” Fuqua said. “People can become involved in any of these programs by donating their money, items or time.”
For more information, go to GraceWorks’s “How to Help” page at www.graceworksministries.net/how-to-help.
According to Executive Director Marcus Stamps, the Davis House Child Advocacy Center in Franklin, which coordinates services for abused children and helps to educate the community on the issue of child abuse, has a constant need for financial donations and volunteers.
In 2015, Davis House served 505 new child clients, an increase of more than 100 from the prior year, according to Stamps. Because services for each child cost around $1,200, the Davis House CAC has a great need for monetary donations.
While their needs are year-round, the staff at Davis House appreciate Giving Tuesday, because it helps call attention to local nonprofits.
“It is a very good day to bring awareness to so many needs in the community, and we sometimes get in a comfort zone and think there’s not as much need as there is,” Stamps said. “Whether it’s us or other quality organizations in the community, Giving Tuesday is important but giving year-round is even more important.”
Financial donations represent the most critical need for Davis House, but there is always a need for volunteers, Stamps said.
Due to the nature of the work that the center does for children, volunteers are not able to work directly with the clients, but Stamps said that they always have a need for volunteers to work in clerical, administrative or fundraising roles.
To learn more about giving to Davis House, visit www.davishousecac.org/give.
Habitat for Humanity
For Giving Tuesday, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury has set a goal to raise $7,000 to sponsor the “bricks and sticks” for one build a day, according to a news release.
Habitat Williamson-Maury has pledged to provide a free gift to anyone who donates $20 or more through its website on Dec. 1.
The nonprofit plans to provide a download code for the “My Deals App,” which has an estimated value of $20 and provides access to exclusive deals at merchants all over the nation. The app will save donors up to 50 percent at restaurants, hotels and entertainment venues, according to Habitat’s news release.
For more information, visit www.hfhwm.org.
Samantha Hearn and Quint Qualls report for Home Page Media Group. They can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.