News: Burlington Free Press “Giving Season” Grants Decline in 2011

The Burlington Free Press’ 2011 Giving Season Campaign began in November 2011  and continues through New Year’s Day. The Giving Season has been a tradition at The Burlington Free Press for 18 years. 2011 marks a significant decline in community giving.

The Burlington Free Press promotes the campaign and the good work of the nonprofit agencies at and through their Twitter  feed (@bfp_news).

For information on how your organization can be apart of the Giving Season campaign, contact Clover Whitham,, (802) 660-1849

On December 19th, 2011 Lynn Monty Wrote: Some families already disconcerted about the dragging economy took a debilitating one-two punch to their budgets when floods from Tropical Storm Irene hit their homes and businesses this year. Right now, some folks are just one missed paycheck away from experiencing hunger and homelessness.

Programs such as the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf, Project Warmth, Committee on Temporary Shelter and the Vermont Disaster Relief Fund are in place to offer temporary help — enough help for some to gain the traction they need to get back up on their feet again.

The Giving Season campaign raised a total of $43,857 last year. That was more than the previous year’s total of $37,095, but less than the $61,226 donated in 2008.

This campaign began last month and continues through New Year’s Day. This year’s mid-season total is $13,709, less than half of what was collected last year.

Free Press reporter Molly Walsh wrote about Warmth, the heating assistance program, last week. In the story the Kmetz family of Essex Junction said they would have been in trouble this winter if not for Project Warmth. Duane and Heather Kmetz say they are usually able to make ends meet, but as temperatures dropped and heating costs rose, this year’s tab ran higher than their budget would allow. Warmth was there to help.

A total of $4,359 has been collected in donations this year for Project Warmth. Coordinator Vicki Fletcher said people are always in need of heating assistance, but with federal budget cuts to heating assistance programs, more people than ever are in need.

“The warm fall helped, but temperatures are dropping,” Fletcher said. “We all knew it wasn’t going to last.”

New clients have called the Warmth office to ask whether they are still eligible for assistance even though they are employed. Fletcher tells them “Yes.”

“Singles, families, people who work, if you need help, please give us a call,” Fletcher said.

Last year, the Giving Season brought in $15,992 for Project Warmth, that’s more than the previous season’s $11,000. In 2008, donations totaled $13,050.

Another Giving Season story, written by Reporter Matt Sutkoski, “COTS offers more than shelter,” ran Dec. 3. Dave Perry of Burlington told his story about the assistance he received from the Committee on Temporary Shelter that allowed him a new start after a tough divorce.

Stories like these provide awareness on issues affecting the people who live in our communities, and the nonprofits who work to assist them. Along with awareness, the Giving Season campaign has brought in a total of $714,589 since 1994 to help.

“Keep those donations coming,” Committee on Temporary Shelter development director Becky Holt said. “They are adding up, and making a huge difference.”

This year’s Giving Season total for COTS is $8,570.

Last year, readers donated $16,915.50 for COTS. That was up from $11,545 the year before, but not as much as the $17,868 raised in 2008.

This Giving Season campaign’s midway point has brought in only about $670 for The Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf. It’s goal is to raise $20,000. Director Rob Meehan said monetary donations and food donations have been down since Tropical Storm Irene hit Vermont.

“The food shelf does not receive federal dollars to run our operation, so we rely on community support to help feed thousands of hungry Vermonters,” he said. “We continue to provide food to seniors, people with disabilities, the homeless, and working families who cannot make ends meet. At the food shelf, we are determined to make sure that no one, especially no child, goes hungry this holiday season or at any time throughout the year.”

The food shelf received $6,520 in donations last Giving Season. That was down from the previous year’s $7,170, far from the $13,903 raised in 2008.

The Vermont Disaster Relief Fund is Disaster Relief Fund County ,a state program for which the United Way of Chittenden County is the fiscal agent. Program coordinator Andrea Houlihan said two Giving Season donation coupons have been received by the agency for a total of $110.

Funds and supplies have reached new lows for people in need, and the agencies who aim to help them. As agencies are challenged to meet their looming operating budgets, a growing number of families are waiting at their door. The Giving Season has been a tradition at The Burlington Free Press for 18 years. Struggling neighbors depend on reader generosity to clip Giving Season coupons out of the daily paper and mail them in with donations. Every dollar helps and stays in the community.

Giving season mid-season totals for 2011:

COTS: $8,570
Project Warmth: $4,359
• Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf: $

Vermont Disaster Relief Fund: $110

TOTAL: $13,709

Giving Season campaign totals by the year:

1994: $5,320
1995: $26,325
1996: $32,000
1997: $27,000
1998: $23,150
1999: $26,925
2000: $33,639
2001: $37,197
2002: $53,371
2003: $44,044
2004: $53,893
2005: $70,233
2006: $35,437
2007: $103,877
2008: $61,226
2009: $37,095
2010: $43,857


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