Eagle County Gives Day is more important than it’s ever been | VailDaily.com

Eagle County Gives Day is more important than it’s ever been

Nonprofits facing greater need, lack of fundraising events

Eagle County Gives Day, the local arm of Colorado Gives Day, has long counted on the generosity of locals. That generosity is needed more than ever this year.

There are roughly 50 local nonprofits participating in this year’s Eagle County Gives Day. That 24-hour burst of online giving has been a growing success over the past several years. All participating nonprofits work together on organizing the campaign for the annual giving day. And all participating nonprofits have been vetted via financial statements and other information to ensure donors’ dollars have the most impact.

That impact is needed badly this year, and at some nonprofits that may surprise you.

Cookie Murphy-Pettee is president of the board of directors for Mountain Valley Horse Rescue. Murphy-Pettee said economic hardship has hit a number of horse owners who can no longer afford to keep their animals.

The rescue operation has had its best-ever year for adoptions, but it’s also taken in 27 rescues, with a 50-strong waiting list.

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Caring for horses is expensive. Murphy-Pettee said the annual cost to properly care for a horse is about $6,000.

Few fundraising events

Mountain Valley Horse Rescue, like many other nonprofits, was unable to count on proceeds from annual fundraising events because people weren’t able to gather.

That inability to gather has also hit hard at the Vail Valley chapter of the Salvation Army. Chapter director Tsu Wolin-Brown said that group has missed out on its annual Empty Bowls fundraiser, as well as the annual golf tournament and other events.

That has come while need has mushroomed due to the valley’s COVID-19-related economic downturn.

Wolin-Brown said the local Salvation Army raised a lot of money for COVID-related relief, but that money’s already been spent.

“We still have a lot of people under-employed or unemployed. There’s a lot of housing insecurity out there,” Wolin-Brown said. In addition, demand at the nonprofit’s Avon food pantry has increased dramatically this year.

Local donors from individuals to local governments have stepped up for the Salvation Army, but Wolin-Brown said Eagle County Gives Day is “very significant” to keep the nonprofit working.

Need has also spiked at The Community Market, a food bank operated by the Eagle Valley Community Foundation. Demand grew from about 1,000 people per week before the pandemic to about 4,000 people per week during the worst of the economic shutdowns.

Rita Mary Hennigan, the sustainability and partner relations coordinator for the Eagle Valley Community Foundation, said demand has lessened a bit, to roughly 3,000 people per week.

Demand is still high

That’s still a lot of demand.

Like the Salvation Army, the Eagle Valley Community Foundation has received a lot of help from the public and private sectors. But, Hennigan said, Eagle County Gives Day will be “really important” this year.

The pandemic’s economic impacts aren’t going away, Hennigan said, adding there’s the potential for even more economic damage if the pandemic worsens.

“We’re trying to plan in such a way that we can (continue to provide services),” Hennigan said.

The Vail Valley Charitable Fund helps local residents facing daunting medical expenses. Fund director Brooke Skjonsby said that group has seen a 20% increase in applications for aid.

While the premise of the fund is based on medical need, Skjonsby said the fund also helps with rent, food and living expenses.

The need is “unrelenting” Skjonsby said.

Skjonsby is also the president of the Eagle County Gives board. Workng with other nonprofits in the valley, she said that not only has need increased, but nonprofits have had to curtail both fundraising and many services. After-school programs have been particularly hard-hit.

That’s why every dollar this year can make a big difference, she added.

Eagle County Gives Day is “essential,” Skjonsby said.

“Whether it’s $5 or $50 or $500, every donation counts,” she said.

Want to give?

To give to a local nonprofit on Colorado Gives Day, go to eaglecountygives.org.

To see the participating nonprofits around the state, go to coloradogives.org.

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