- FUN FEATURES
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Nonprofits in Cheshire did surprisingly well with fundraising efforts, as donations from residents and local businesses proved beneficial in an otherwise difficult economic year.
Expectations were low, considering what the end of 2008 predicted for the foreseeable future. Still, many groups received similar donations amounts to what they had received in previous years, or exceeded their goals and expectations with a positive 2009.
“We did really well in 2009, considering the economy,” explained Rob Daly, president of the Cheshire Gridiron Club. “Our fundraising efforts were up this year from 2008. We are very fortunate to live in this community where businesses and individuals are very supportive.”
Daly explained that donations come from all over, but players’ parents are the “driving force” behind the gridiron club. The group sells discount cards that can be used at area retailers, along with sports calendars and football yearbooks to raise money. The funds are then used to purchase equipment and other items for the team, without adding a burden to the local taxpayers.
“Donations are vital to our group and we try to subsidize needs for the team,” Daly said. “This year, the team got new uniforms with no outlay from the Town. The big factor was that we were able to raise money for that.”
This year, the gridiron club also sold banners around the field to add to the fundraiser ventures. Daly explained that the other endeavors remain constant throughout the years for the club. Besides financial assistance, parents are also helping out by providing dinners before games and offering their time in setting up cleaning after events.
“We are fortunate that we have a lot of parents that are willing and able to help and participate,” Daly said. “Financially, we were affected more in 2008 than we were in 2009. It was a pleasant surprise that we were able to do as well as we did. Overall, we had a good year.”
Kristen Schechter, the town’s social worker, explained that donations for programs around the holidays went well and, overall, 2009 showed that families and businesses that were able to ratcheted up their donations in light of the troubled times.
“People in the community, both individuals and businesses, were so generous this year,” Schechter said. “It was a very pleasant surprise to see so many donations.”
Holiday toy drives and adopt-a-family programs went smoothly she said and, throughout the course of the year, donations came in to help Cheshire residents. Schechter statd that this time last year there was a concern that there wouldn’t be enough donations, but her fears were never realized as the community supported their neighbors in need.
“We want to calm people’s fears and ease their worries, but every year you worry if there will be enough,” Schechter said. “The community showed how wonderful they are this year.”
Plans for a dog park in Cheshire continue to move forward, and despite the economy, the group has raised nearly $4,000 thus far, about one-third of the total needed to make the dream of a dog park on Waterbury Road a reality.
Jenifer Walsh, co-organizer of Cheshire’s Lights of Hope, explained that despite the economy, donations are up from previous years, including business sponsorships. It this community, she said, people do what they can to support many different causes.
Cheshire’s Relay For Life netted over $380,000 for the American Cancer Society this summer. While it is a significant amount of money, it was the lowest total gathered in Cheshire since 1998, a fact that could be attributed to the economy. Still, through residents and businesses, hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised in the midst of the economic downturn.
The steady stream of charitable donations from Cheshire residents to local causes has bucked a national trend that has seen severe decreases in overall giving. As of December, the Salvation Army reported a 32 percent drop in donations from 2008 to 2009, and The United Way reported a 20 percent dip in the amount of corporate donations they had received during that same time period.
According to the Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI), which tracks yearly donations for charities across the U.S., 40 percent of such organizations saw a “significant” fall in repeat donors throughout 2009.