A program that has raised $200,000 for local nonprofit organizations during its first five years has begun the task of granting more wishes during the next five weeks.
A total of 45 local nonprofits with a combined list of 126 wishes are seeking support through Grant a Wish, administered through Heritage Fund — The Community Foundation of Bartholomew County.
Whether agencies are asking for funds to buy simple office equipment or to purchase coats and gloves for the needy or maybe even a music camp scholarship for arts-inclined students, Grant A Wish allows residents to offer a one-size-fits-all gift: money.
Money to make wishes come true, that is, starting at $5.
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The program’s latest installment, which began Monday, runs through Dec. 25, six days shorter than last year.
This year, the foundation, along with MainSource Bank and Elwood Staffing, is offering $20,000 in matching funds — $5,000 more than last year to cover the same number of wishes as in 2014, according to organizers.
Last year’s Grant A Wish hit a record of $34,865 in donations — and a near-record of $49,865 including matching money, according to Amber Fischvogt, the Heritage Fund’s vice president of development.
“We really haven’t set a specific goal (this year),” Fischvogt said. “We try to work with the matching money we have and look for ways to maximize that.”
Organizers maximize the visibility of the program’s holiday-oriented, alternative gift-giving angle in a simple way. All donors, many of whom give in the name of family members, receive gift tags to fill out and give to a loved one during the holidays to let the receivers know that gifts were made in their honor.
A donation of as little as $10 will allow the Horizon House homeless shelter staff to purchase a children’s movie for youngsters of families at the shelter. A gift of $25 to Hope’s Yellow Trail Museum will purchase acid-free folders for much-needed storage. A donation of $150 allows United Way 2-1-1 to buy two telephone headsets for telephone specialists to take calls at home during a disaster.
At Columbus’ Children Inc., featuring education-based child care, Grant A Wish helps the agency get much-needed winter hats, gloves and socks for youngsters, executive director Brenda Flanagan said. Without that help, staffers would have to scour garage sales, thrift shops and other areas to meet such needs.
The program last year generated nearly $3,000 to help Children Inc. with items such as art and classroom supplies for a range of activities, Flanagan said.
“Otherwise, staff would have been making those purchases out of their own pocket,” Flanagan said.
Columbus’ Family Service Inc. offers a range of mental health and emotional help to thousands of area clients, about half of whom are financially struggling. Grant A Wish this year will help the agency offer additional professional training for staff, and replace a range of books — both for clients and staff — destroyed in the 2009 Christmas Eve United Way of Bartholomew County building fire.
“It’s always nice to have the added support,” said Julie Arbogast-Miller, Family Service’s executive director.
The Columbus-based Developmental Services Inc. reaches more than 2,000 disabled clients in 42 Hoosier counties, helping them achieve various measures of independence. Last year, Grant A Wish generated $800 for a range of DSI’s needs, said Amy Kleinert, development administrator.
“It’s one more great outlet to help us achieve our goals,” Kleinert said. “It’s definitely a welcome, added boost.”
Go to heritagefundbc.com, and click on the Grant A Wish list about halfway down the left side of the homepage.
$20,000: Matching funds for Grant A Wish
$34,865: Last year’s record Grant A Wish donations
$200,000: Donations in five years of Grant A Wish