Some Wisconsin charities say the season of giving started when pandemic first hit

Posted at 7:07 AM, Nov 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-23 08:10:41-05

The holiday season is when many decide to donate to charities. In some cases, those who can contribute didn't wait for the season of giving to start.

The Salvation Army said well before it started its Red Kettle campaign, it felt the effects of the community's generosity. Since the start of the pandemic, the charity said it raised nearly half a million dollars in Milwaukee County alone.

"People have said I don't have a whole lot or if I do have some, I want to be able to give it," said Major Steve Woodard, Milwaukee County Coordinator with the Salvation Army.

"We were able to maximize those funds to buy in bulk, to buy hand sanitizer, to buy masks for people," Major Woodard continued.

Other charities are seeing that same generosity. The Hunger Task Force reports an increase in millions of dollars in private donations compared to last year.

"When people heard that we were buying the milk that the farmers were spilling they got pretty excited about that and they started donating at very high levels. So we were able to literally purchase over three million pounds of Wisconsin dairy," said Sherrie Tussler, the Executive Director of The Hunger Task Force.

TMJ4 News covered that story back in September.

"People who still got to work and keep their jobs I think more and more were grounded in that reality and wanted to help their neighbor," said Tussler.

Not every charity has had the same experience. At least according to this survey from Indiana University's Women's Philanthropy Institute.

More than 3,000 people participated in the study, which found during the first few months of COVID-19, around one-third of U.S. households gave directly to charitable organizations, individuals, or businesses, and sixty-eight percent did not.

The survey did, however, show forty-eight percent of people gave indirectly during the first few months of the pandemic, by ordering take-out or buying gift cards from their local stores.

As COVID-19 takes hold of Wisconsin, both charities aren't sure how that will impact donations during the holiday season and after.

"Due to COVID, we have a number of locations that we don't have an opportunity to ring at," said Major Woodard.

"Some people don't shop outside anymore or it's minimal. It's not the same type of interaction that we've all been used to in years past for Christmas and hearing that bell," he continued.

"What will happen after December 30, there won't be the Farmers to Families food box program. There won't be additional CARES funding to buy more food. So, we're hoping with the new administration or maybe with our state legislature going back into session, that we will see some relief there," said Tussler.

If you are interested in donating to a charity, click on this link so you can verify whether it's reputable.

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