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Making a Difference in Arkansas on Giving Tuesday

Arkansas

by Jeremy Peppas

It is right in the holiday’s name: giving.

Thanksgiving isn’t just turkey and football and shopping – essential component of the holiday is giving thanks and Giving Tuesday, held this year on Dec. 3, is very much part of the holiday.

Giving Tuesday is described as a “A Global Generosity Movement” on the web site, givingtuesday.com, which includes guidance and organizations participating. The idea of a day set aside for giving started in 2012, according to the site, and has since “grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity.”

Just in Arkansas, the site lists 813 organizations that are participating in Giving Tuesday and range from the Humane Society to Lyon College to Methodist Family Health, the Little Rock-based provider that provides care to thousands of children from across the state.

“Giving Tuesday is centered on philanthropy, but how a person chooses to contribute is up to them,” says Kelli Reep, director of communications for Methodist Family Health. “If someone wants to give a one-time gift, that is fine. If they want to do a monthly gift, that is fine, too. If they want to make an in-kind donation – toys for Christmas presents, gift cards, personal hygiene items, etc. – that is in definite need.”

Reep said her organization has been participating in Giving Tuesday for the last five years and has seen incremental progress in that time.

“We have seen an increase in contributions through Giving Tuesday,” she says. “This year, our goal is to raise or exceed $5,000.”

A relatively modest monetary goal but it isn’t just about giving money.

In the charitable giving world, it is known as the three Ts of time, treasure and talent.

“We accept all three,” Reep says. “We have small groups from churches who do services like craft projects or caroling with the kids in our behavioral hospital, residential treatment centers, groups homes and Arkansas CARES programs. They also donate and set up Christmas trees and other décor for the moms and kids in Arkansas CARES. Truly, for [Methodist Family Health], giving your time and talent is as crucial as funding. They all work together.”

Reep also outlined some of the ways people could also give their time and talent.

“This time of year, we need volunteers to help us shop for Christmas lists our kids have made, sort in-kind donations, determine what items are needed where, wrap gifts and deliver to our locations,” she says.

And as an example Reep notes that, “Caterpillar in North Little Rock has done this for us the past two years and again this year. They commit to a certain amount they will use toward Christmas gifts, then they get volunteers from their employees to shop and deliver the presents to us.”

Regardless, “any way a person, organization, church or small group would like to contribute, we will gratefully accept,” Reep says.

The Giving Tuesday campaign also has another benefit, according to Reep.

“If we can utilize Giving Tuesday as a way to make people aware of what we do and educate them on how we work throughout the state, it’s an accomplishment,” she says. “Having people who follow us on social media say, ‘I saw your post on Giving Tuesday,’ or ‘We watched you on TV talk about Giving Tuesday’ or ‘I gave because I believe in what [Methodist Family Health] does for our community’ let us know we are communicating effectively. …  If they don’t give during Giving Tuesday, they may give another time. It’s more about planting seeds and watching where those bloom.”

While Reep doesn’t know how Giving Tuesday will go, she does know that “generosity runs deep in Arkansas … We cannot thank Arkansans enough for not only contributing their financial support, but their prayer and spiritual gifts as well.”

For that, we can all be thankful.

Want to give?

Click here and search for Arkansas or your community to see what organizations are participating.

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