Day of Giving

Jim Gaulke boxes up canned goods on Friday, May 11, 2018, at the Kiwanis Community House. Nonperishable food items, among other things, were collected during the 13th annual Cheyenne Day of Giving.

CHEYENNE – Normally in May, the Kiwanis Community House is transformed into a donation hub for local nonprofits during the annual Cheyenne Day of Giving. The event gives a huge boost to nonprofit organizations, but it had to be postponed this year due to COVID-19.

The organizers behind the Day of Giving set a new date for September, and given the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, the event has been turned into a drive-thru Day of Giving scheduled for Sept. 25.

“This can be a really tough time for agencies,” Day of Giving founder and board member Greta Morrow said. “They’re facing increased needs, and, in a lot of cases, they’re facing decreased financial resources. So, in order to help our neighbors in need, we need to have an event like this that gives them that huge influx of food, hygiene items and that kind of thing.”

Last year, the Cheyenne Day of Giving collected 23,334 pounds of nonperishable food and personal-care items for local agencies supporting the community. And even though the event has been turned into a drive-thru, Morrow said they’re hoping to feel the same level of support from the community.

For the Sept. 25 event, residents can drive up to the Kiwanis Community House between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. with their donations in the back seat or trunk of their car. Volunteers wearing masks and gloves will unload the supplies to minimize close contact as an additional health precaution.

Day of Giving volunteers will then transport the donations to their designated nonprofit and let the boxes sit over the weekend.

Residents wishing to donate blood will be the only ones allowed inside the Community House, and masks are required for blood donors.

Morrow said, “We’re hoping that the public will come out to the drive-thru Day of Giving and give the local agencies a big boost with donating food, personal-care items, craft items, durable medical equipment, medical supplies, leftover medication, used eyeglasses and hearing aids and cellphones to get out to people in need. We also hope people will come out and give blood, because there’s big need for blood.”

Oftentimes, nonprofits see an increased need when there’s a recession, with more people struggling to make ends meet, and that has been true for Laramie County’s nonprofits through the pandemic. A number of food banks have doubled or tripled the amount of meals they provided in months prior.

So when the in-person event had to be postponed, the team brainstormed how they could still support nonprofits during this difficult time. They came up with a virtual Day of Giving, which was held in May. Each agency requested specific items for residents to drop off, and Day of Giving collected financial donations online, raising about $16,000.

“We used that to provide an extra layer of help for the agencies we help throughout the year,” Morrow said. “We got lots of extra food and hygiene items, and helped buy infrared thermometers and sanitizing products. After being in quarantine for months, and with the start of school here, there were a lot of families that were in great need of school clothes, so we bought clothes and shoes and underwear to help people that couldn’t do that on their own.”

The timing couldn’t be better for a lot of nonprofits, as they see a lull in donations before the winter holiday season. To help nonprofits bridge that gap, the Cheyenne Board of Realtors has stepped up to assist in the Day of Giving event on Sept. 25.

They’ll have about 60 volunteers helping with their efforts, sitting outside both Albertsons locations with lists of what the agencies need. Residents will be able to grab a list, go shopping and leave their donations with the Board of Realtors members, who will deliver them to the Community House between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Brady Koerwitz, the point person for the Board of Realtors operation, said they normally fill an entire trailer with food donations and hope to have similar successes this year.

“It’s important to support them right now during COVID, but it’s important every other year, too, because our nonprofits are always in need,” Koerwitz said.

Margaret Austin is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle’s local government reporter. She can be reached at maustin@wyomingnews.com or 307-633-3152. Follow her on Twitter at @MargaretMAustin.

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