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9th annual GivingTuesday event promotes donations, volunteerism across Colorado, internationally

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KRDO) -- After spending money shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, organizers hope you'll be willing to give to meaningful causes during GivingTuesday.

The event began as an idea in 2011 and was called Cyber Giving Monday. The next year, it officially became the global event GivingTuesday and is always observed five days after Thanksgiving.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers held an additional event on May 5 called GivingTuesdayNow.

"We raised $11,000 in May," said Liz Denson, vice president of community engagement for Early Connections Learning Center, in Colorado Springs." "We won't know for a while yet how much we'll raise today."

ECLC provides day care and education for kids of ages 6 weeks to 14 years. But because of the pandemic's economic impact, enrollment is down to 195 from a capacity of 368.

"Even though we provide child care with tuition based upon a family's income, many families have someone in the family who isn't working due to the pandemic," Denson said. "We believe our low enrollment is due to families not working or finding care elsewhere through a friend or family member."

Denson said that ECLC has used donations to promote social distancing among children and staff and to supplement the cost of enrollment for some parents.

"This has been a challenging year for everyone and we are doing everything we can to be here for our children, families and staff long after this year is behind us," she said.

Donations for the regular fall event have increased to an estimated $2 billion in 2019, with roughly a fourth of that amount made via online donations. Facebook is among the social media sites offering matching donations from individuals and nonprofit agencies.

GivingTuesday also promotes giving back to communities, asking people to volunteer time, services and resources to causes that have personal significance.

Gary Butterworth, CEO of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation, said that food, and access to medical and mental health care, are in high demand, as well.

"This season, it's not just about making sure that those in need have a merry Christmas," he said. "It's about making sure that basic needs are met. And we don't know how long we'll be in this situation. We're thankful that so many people have donated more as the demand for services has risen."

Lorri Orwig, senior vice president of operations for Catholic Charities, said her organization does more than just feed the homeless at its Marian House soup kitchen.

"Our biggest demand is for rental assistance," she said. "We've even hired more people to process the requests. We spend our donations as quickly as we get them. We've gone from allocating $40,000 in rental assistance last year to more than $500,000 in the first eight months of this year."

Orwig also said that volunteers are harder to find because they're typically in the older age group that is at high risk of contracting COVID-19.

"We're hoping to find volunteers who are maybe a little bit younger," she said. "We need them. There's a lot to do."

Another giving opportunity arrives next Monday, with the 14th annual Colorado Cares Day. That event has raised $335 million for nonprofits in the state.

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Scott Harrison

Scott is a reporter for KRDO. Learn more about Scott here.

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