"Giving Tuesday" challenges during the pandemic

NOW: “Giving Tuesday“ challenges during the pandemic

ST. JOSEPH COUNTY, Ind.—Every year, United Way of St. Joseph County partners with local non-profit organizations to lend a helping hand to neighbors in need.

“What could be a better cure for all of 20-20 than a day that we’re all kind of United around giving and supporting people around us who are in need or the causes that we really care about,” Vice President of Misson Advancement at United Way of St. Joseph County Lauren Smyth said.

This year---even more people are seeking support---due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“The quantity and the magnitude of need right now is huge. Right now, in St. Joseph County, we are serving anywhere between 25,000 and 45,000 meals a day,” Smyth said.

For St. Margaret’s House, a South Bend non-profit serving women and children in the area, serving daily hot meals is nothing new, but the number of meals they’re serving has climbed.

“A lot of people have lost their jobs or have lost their hours and this time of the year we usually serve around 70 meals a day, and we are serving at least 100 every day,” St. Margaret’s House Executive Director Kathy Schneider said.

Even volunteering has proved to be a struggle.

“A lot of non-profits have had to restrict the number of volunteers they can allow in,” Smyth said. “Other people are seeing that they still have a dependency for volunteers but they’re fewer volunteers who are able or who are comfortable coming out right now.”

St. Margaret’s House had to cut its staffing down about 75% just so that everyone can stay as safe as possible.

“We always operated with about 140 weekly volunteers, now we have about 20 coming.”

Despite all the changes and challenges, giving back is what it’s all about.

“It’s just an important time to be as together and at the same time be safe and apart as we can,” Schneider said.

“It’s a challenge for everyone and everyone is dealing with it in different ways and so if an opportunity to give back is the thing that’s going to bring us together...than let’s do that. Let’s let this be the thing that defines us,” Smyth said.

Last year, United Way raised 3,500 dollars on Giving Tuesday. Smyth said that at this time, it's a little too difficult to determine how many donations came in for this year.

If you are able to donate and want to help, you can donate on St. Margaret’s House website or on United Way’s website.

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