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The fun in fundraiser

Foundation hosts Giving Tuesday event

Garrett Neese/Daily Mining Gazette Maggie Munch, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Copper Country, talks with people during the Copper Shores Community Health Foundation’s Giving Tuesday event at the Copper Country Mall.

HOUGHTON — The Copper Shores Community Health Foundation celebrated Giving Tuesday with an all-day event at the Copper Country Mall where people could donate to non-profits in person, and also talk with them to learn about their services to the community.

Copper Shores had previously hosted its Giving Tuesday event at its headquarters in Hancock, but this year expanded the event to the Copper Country Mall.

Iola Brubaker, executive director of the Keweenaw Family Resource Center, said staff had been meeting with the public and connecting with other nonprofits they don’t get to see every day.

“It’s just super-fun to be able to share our stories and have people connecting with the nonprofits in the community,” she said.

This marks the biggest year yet for Copper Shores’ Giving Tuesday fundraiser, with 31 non-profits participating from Baraga, Houghton, Keweenaw and Ontonagon counties. Now in its sixth year, the campaign has raised nearly $2.8 million for local organizations.

Giving Tuesday is a global celebration taking place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to encourage people to donate to charities as part of their holiday gift-giving.

The mall event continued until 7 p.m., with donations continuing until midnight.

Aided this year by funds from the Klungness Family Health Foundation, Copper Shores is matching up to $250,000 of donations. People could single out groups or split their donations evenly.

Donations to Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly go towards its core programs, said communications director Gail Ross. Those include the Friendly Visiting Program, for home visits to area seniors, and the medical transportation program. LBFE also launched the Drive to Care initiative, aimed at boosting the number of volunteer drivers to help elders get to medical appointments.

Drivers who use their own vehicles will receive a stipend.

“If you want to drive an elder to Marquette, we have a $100 stipend we will pay to help offset costs for your vehicle,” she said.

LBFE does it all through grants or donations, Ross said.

“We don’t receive state or federal funds, so we work really hard with a lot of other philanthropic organizations to get money,” Ross said. “Copper Shores is a huge asset to Little Brothers.”

Giving Tuesday has helped raise close to $100,000 over the years for the Keweenaw Family Resource Center, Brubaker said.

That money goes towards projects like keeping its diaper closet supplied and providing scholarships for families to the Treehouse Indoor Playground. It also allows KFRC to continue providing its services to families for free or a minimal cost.

Having those donations provides more freedom to start new projects and improve existing ones, said Emily Blake, KFRC’s family support and community outreach specialist. The biggest focus recently has been literacy, as well as its new program for fathers.

The KFRC is also planning to launch a local branch of the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a bulk book-mailing program. Families sign up for free to receive an age-appropriate book for their child every month until their fifth birthday.

“Most of the things at KFRC are free,” Brubaker said. “We do books for children, family support, helping them connect to things in our community that provide them things we can use. We do special events and all the money raised helps us keep those things running.”

Blake appreciated getting to use the Copper Country Mall more.

“We have the space, and with it being winter nine months out of the year here, having these indoor community efforts will get us through the winter,” she said.

This is the first year Keweenaw Land Trust has been part of Copper Shores’ Giving Tuesday campaign.

Over the past few years, the Keweenaw Land Trust has almost doubled its number of nature areas, which is now at 26, said Pat Toczydlowski, the KLT’s interim executive director.

The Giving Tuesday funds will go towards land stewardship to help take care of those spaces and add improvements to make them even more accessible.

The KLT is also hoping to get an AmeriCorps program that would assign a team of six people working 40 hours a week on projects. The KLT would provide lodging through master cabins at the Marsin Center Retreat. Donations would help provide funds to feed them, and get the supplies and materials they need to carry the projects out.

“We’ve always done something for Giving Tuesday, but Copper Shores makes it a huge community celebration here, so we’re really glad to be a part of it this year,” Toczydlowski said. “I just think it’s a testament to the generosity of our community, and I think it’s a testament to the quality of the work that our nonprofits do,” she said. “So I just think it’s fantastic, and I think we’re really lucky to have this community that just makes it such a big celebration.”

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