Nonprofits cancel fundraiser events amid surge in COVID-19 cases
NEENAH, Wis. (WBAY) - The surge in COVID-19 cases across the area led several county health departments to issue emergency alerts. Those warnings led some nonprofits to reconsider their benefit events.
“Friday was a really hard day,” said Kelly Hicks, Executive Director of Youth Go.
On Friday, Youth Go decided to cancel its one fundraiser event of the year.
“We were all excited about the Hallows, we all wanted it to happen, we had taken every safety precaution we could, we were ready,” said Hicks. “It just came down to it that it wasn’t worth the risk.”
Youth Go is a nonprofit on the border of Neenah and Menasha that serves as a center for youth in the area to gather, socialize, and access resources like meals and tutoring.
Hicks says they canceled all fundraising events earlier in the year but felt their outdoor haunted maze benefit could still be held safely during the pandemic. But those plans changed after area health departments issued an emergency alert due to a rise in COVID-19 cases and the Neenah Joint School District announced it would move to virtual school.
“Obviously the dollars are important for any nonprofit, but we couldn’t think about what would happen if one of our young people got sick, or one of our staff, or one of our adult volunteers,” said Hicks. “They’re what’s most important.”
Canceling fundraising opportunities in a year when those have been few and far between to begin with isn’t ideal for Youth Go. Especially since some of its services are more difficult to provide now.
“It’s getting harder and it’s getting more expensive because now we’re trying to provide pre-packaged snacks and we’re pre-plating our meals,” said Hicks. “It’s a little bit harder, but like I said before, anything that we can do to try to keep them safer we’re going to do it.”
Green Bay’s Habitat for Humanity was thinking along the same lines when deciding to cancel its benefit event planned at the Turn this weekend after Brown County issued a health alert of its own.
“When you hear the COVID alert there’s really no other option than to get out and think of the big picture and know that it’s the best decision for everybody,” said Executive Director Cora Haltaufderheid.
Haltaufderheid says the pandemic has impacted them quite a lot, not just in fundraising, but also delaying projects and affecting volunteer numbers.
But whether it’s canceling events or changing day-to-day operations, both directors think the health safety precautions they’re taking right now are worthwhile during a pandemic.
“Getting out of your box and understanding that it’s bigger than any one of us right now. It’s bigger than the mask, it’s bigger than social distancing, it’s how we function as an organization and as a community together,” said Haltaufderheid.
“You know we all wear masks here, we clean the center constantly. We encourage our young people to keep their distance from each other as best as we can,” said Hicks. “We know that they need the connection, they need the services that we offer. To make a couple of extra sacrifices, or inconveniences if people want to refer to them that, it’s worth it to keep people safe.”
Haltaufderheid says people can still support Habitat by shopping at their Restore location, or by volunteering time to help work at the Restore. Youth Go is accepting donations of school supplies or food items.
Monetary donations can also be made at either organization’s website:
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