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Going Casual for a Cause

10/27/2014 12:00AM ● Published by Claudia Mosby

Casual with a Twist

November 2014
By Claudia Mosby

Philanthropy at its best uses the resources of the people for the people, a vision the Shasta Regional Community Foundation has upheld since its inception almost 15 years ago.

Most of the foundation’s $23 million in assets is donor-directed (or restricted); however, it maintains a stewardship endowment fund to support local programs addressing pressing needs, says Kerry Caranci, Chief Executive Officer. “It is our most versatile and responsive fund,” she adds, “allowing us to address emerging opportunities that improve quality of life while supporting the foundation’s efforts to increase philanthropic endeavors throughout Shasta and Siskiyou counties.”

Growing this fund while engaging resident-donors in both counties is a top priority, so last year, the foundation jumped aboard the national Giving Tuesday campaign. International in scope, Giving Tuesday has served as a model for communities around the globe to spearhead their own grassroots campaigns.

The foundation’s effort yielded impressive results: $4,500 in only three weeks from 14 participating businesses. “We were shocked and overwhelmed at the response,” says Jill Harris, Development and Communications Officer. “This year, we are expanding our reach and envision increasing involvement from the business community.”

The Giving Tuesday philosophy is simple. “We spend one day giving thanks, two days getting deals (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) and now we dedicate a day to giving back,” Harris says. “Giving even $5 can make a difference.“

The foundation liked the Giving Tuesday idea so much that it created Casual For A Cause. “A $5 donation buys an employee of a participating business the right to wear jeans to work on the first Tuesday in December,” says Amanda Hutchings, Foundation Program Officer. “It is a good way to kick off the holiday season in the giving spirit.” Participating employers collect and then match the donations received, which are then returned to local nonprofit organizations through the foundation as grants.

“The first year, we identified nonprofits that were meeting basic needs,” such as food and clothing distribution, Hutchings says. “The 2013 participants are eligible to nominate up to two nonprofits each for this year’s campaign. An organization does not have to do anything to be eligible for nomination other than the good work it is already doing in the community.”

The foundation vets the nominated organizations and asks finalists to provide a brief video (which Hutchins says can be recorded on a smart phone) explaining its need. The videos are then posted to the foundation website for a public vote.

This year, six organizations—three each from Shasta and Siskiyou counties—will vie for $7,500 a piece. The top vote recipient for each county will receive an additional $2,500, bringing the award total to $10,000 each.

The Shasta Senior Nutrition Program, a 2013 awardee, used its $5,000 grant to purchase food for its Meals On Wheels program for homebound seniors. With rising food costs, Executive Director Debbie McClung says it can be tough to make the budget stretch further each year.

“We’re very grateful for that generous gift,” McClung says. “It allowed us to reach more than 500 seniors with close to 2,000 meals. If you were to quantify it, it would be the equivalent to two months of meals at our Burney satellite center.”

Free the Need, a Siskiyou County organization operated by volunteers, also received a $5,000 grant last year. The charity distributes surplus food to families in need.

“The grant made it possible to provide food to 400 additional families in Siskiyou County for the holidays,” says volunteer Daisy Meyer. “We purchased turkeys for the Thanksgiving/Holiday Food Program, which provided food boxes filled with fresh produce, including potatoes, onions, yams, carrots, pears and oranges as well as coffee and a large turkey.”

Siskiyou resident Laurie found Free the Need eight years ago and says it is “a place where I could lift boxes and do something powerful and loving to help others and myself. I have been able to help pack boxes for other families in need, while taking some food for my family. I made it through my experience as a caretaker to both my mother and daughter. My struggles are over and I cannot express enough gratitude.”

Since 2000, the Shasta Regional Community Foundation has awarded $12 million in grants to local communities, Caranci says. “Whether larger donations or pennies from school children, the foundation serves as a vehicle for donors to reach area nonprofit organizations.”

Businesses and employees interested in promoting philanthropy within their organization are invited to join this year’s Casual For A Cause event on Tuesday, December 2.

(530) 244-1219 •

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