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Utah nonprofits received more than $633,000 in online donations in 24 hours during the inaugural Love Utah Give Utah event Friday, and more than $19,100 went to Southern Utah organizations.
The Community Foundation of Utah hosted the state’s first day of giving with the intention of growing philanthropy, revenue, capacity and community by encouraging Utahns to learn about and support their local nonprofit organizations. More than 20 nonprofits in Washington, Iron, Kane, Garfield and Beaver counties participated in this year’s event.
To further promote awareness and the giving of donations, a Southern Utah event was also held at Ancestor Square with music, food, prizes and several nonprofit booths, where individuals could make donations in person. Linda Hartz, the secretary for Backpacks for Kids and a member of the Southern Utah Love Utah Give Utah committee, said the day of the event that she was pleased with the turonout.
“I’m encouraged by the number of booths and that everybody is trying so hard,” Hartz said. “It’s really great to meet people who are supporting our community, and in most cases, they don’t know that all these (organizations) exist. It’s a great opportunity for St. George.”
There was more to gain at the local event than just donations, Hartz said.
“One of the things we’ve learned from this is to meet each other because most of the nonprofits don’t even know each other, so this is a chance to come together,” Hartz said. “We learn from each other, and we’re all out there for the same purpose, but we’re not competitive. I would say that probably half of the people here will write a donation to another nonprofit that they didn’t know existed that they want to support.”
Timothy Leslie, the independent living coordinator at Red Rock Center for Independence, said the Love Utah Give Utah event helped further the center’s efforts to provide independent living to physically and mentally disabled residents in Southern Utah.
“We are certainly looking for folks to donate toward what we do,” Leslie said. “An individual wants to feel as independent as possible, and they just need some support, help and guidance to get to that point where they feel like they’re independent.”
Sonjia Schugk, the fiscal manager at the Red Rock Center, said the organization is mostly funded by state and federal grants. With the recent sequestration, the organization is “feeling the crunch,” Schugk said.
“That’s why we try to encourage donations from individuals or corporations to help us continue our mission,” Schugk said.
In addition to monetary donations, many of the nonprofits were seeking donations of time and items, such as walkers, toys and food.
Dawn McLain, principal at Write It Up and a Southern Utah Love Utah Give Utah committee member, said she had hoped the event would raise at least $5 million, but any donations toward the Southern Utah organizations would be “awesome.”
“This was the first year, so it’s very difficult to project (a total),” McLain said.
McLain said she wants to thank community members for their support and donations, and she encourages residents to continue to give often.
“Set yourself a schedule of philanthropy,” McLain said. “Once you’ve had the opportunity to learn a little bit more about these guys, volunteer and participate. Our community is only as good as we make it.”
Although the day of giving is over, individuals can continue to donate to Utah nonprofit organizations online at www.LoveUTGiveUT.org.