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'Giving Tuesday" and 'GiveMN' helping nonprofits during COVID-19 challenges

Updated: May 06, 2020 03:52 AM

Giving Tuesday Now is a new global day of giving and unity as a response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. 

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According to the Giving Tuesday website, "#GivingTuesdayNow is designed to drive an influx of generosity, citizen engagement, business and philanthropy activation, and support for communities and nonprofits around the world. It’s a day when we can all come together and give back in all ways, no matter who or where we are." 

#GivingTuesdayNow is organized by GivingTuesday, in partnership with its global network of leaders, partners, communities and individuals.

On this day people are asked to help in many ways, including helping organizations and nonprofits that are in much need of support. Northland nonprofits have been busier than ever before with the COVID-19 pandemic, but are struggling financially to keep up with the demand.

"Certainly nonprofits like ours are doing heavy lifting at this unprecedented time so it's really important that they continue to have this support," said Shaye Moris, the executive director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

"Our emergency shelter has been full throughout this whole time and we foresee that not changing very much. Also, our Sol House which is focused around providing a space for people who have been human trafficked or sexually exploitered is full," said Jordon Johnson, the executive director of Life House. "This is why on giving day, it's so important that we ensure that these services are here and available to our young generations."

Johnson says there's also concerns about what lies ahead with their housing and apartments, they've been getting more filled due to evictions and people losing their jobs during this health pandemic. They've been helping the youth they serve file for unemployment.

"What we do very well I think in the Duluth area is collectively come together and work together. We partner with other local nonprofits and we have a really great relationship also with the county in regards to kind of thinking through how to support and provide the best services available for our community. That's why it's so important to ensure that our local nonprofits are operating," said Johnson.

Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank is also struggling to keep up with the food shelf.

"There were food shortages and obviously consumer over buying that led to us having to purchase more products at a higher cost to us, so for us financially it has been difficult because we've had to kind of change our procedure for food access," said Shaye Moris, the executive director of Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank.

More and more people are in need of food as they face financial difficulties with the health crisis. From February to March, Moris says they saw a 16 percent increase in food shelf use in the area which covers Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin. She also said they've had to make drastic changes to the way they distribute food.

"We have to have volunteers in small groups, which is a third of our workforce. We really pay attention to facility and personal hygiene when volunteers come in and out. In the field we've gone to drive thru distributions and low contact distributions that really makes sure that our participants are safe as well," said Moris.

Northern Lights Foundation had to cancel their biggest fundraiser of the year, the Children's Charity Gala, which has helped them raise $100,000 to help families with children battling life threatening illnesses.

"A lot of our grants have kind of been dependent on that coming in every year. So we're just trying to be creative and see what else we can do to try to come up with different ideas and different ways to fundraise," said Dr. Ken Larson, the president of the Northern Lights Foundation.

Larson said he saw generosity from people already on "Giving Tuesday Now" with several donations from people and sponsors who would have attended the gala.

"It's amazing how people in Duluth and in the northland just step forward and try to help out whatever way they can so it's awful nice to see. The need is probably even greater than before," said Larson.

Also happening this week is a GiveMN fundraiser to support nonprofits and schools during COVID-19 outbreak that's called #GiveAtHomeMN. #GiveAtHomeMN is a weeklong virtual fundraising event happening on GiveMN.org. It's hosted by GiveMN, the Minneapolis-based nonprofit behind the annual Give to the Max Day.

#GiveAtHomeMN will raise funds and build awareness for nonprofits and schools through one week of collective giving.

To help nonprofits you can donate to their websites directly or go to givemn.org and search them on the website to see if they are part of the Give MN effort.

Copyright 2020 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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