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Op-ed: Be part of Giving Day

February 26, 2018 GMT

If there is one event that truly captures the spirit of our community, it’s Fairfield County’s Giving Day — now our region’s biggest day of philanthropy. This Thursday, March 1, thousands of neighbors will once again come together to make a difference for nonprofits in our community. And on the fifth anniversary of this remarkable day of giving, each of us has a chance to be part of this milestone.

As a 24-hour fundraising event, Fairfield County’s Giving Day invites individuals, families, companies and groups to “give where you live.” On March 1, beginning at 12 a.m. and running to midnight, community members can go to FCGives.org to search for a cause they care about and donate $10 or more to a nonprofit in their neighborhood. With special prizes and hourly incentives for participating nonprofits, donating on Giving Day is a great way to help move the needle for a favorite organization.

Since Giving Day began in 2014, spearheaded by Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and sponsored by Bank of America, it’s been thrilling to see this event evolve and grow. Giving Day has transformed the way we think about, talk about and participate in giving in our own backyard, offering an opportunity to see firsthand how donations can make an impact right in Fairfield County.

And over the course of five years, the collective power of neighbors caring for each other has been extraordinary. To date, more than 55,000 donations have been made through Giving Day — raising an asounding $4.5 million to date to help more than 650 Fairfield County nonprofits deliver hunger relief, access to housing, educational opportunities for youth and adults, support for the arts and culture and much more. Last year alone, Giving Day raised a record-breaking $1.46 million, an incredible 121 percent increase from the inaugural event in 2014.

These thousands of small donations, when pooled with others, have made a huge impact in our community and have touched lives in a real way. These donations have helped build theaters, and given homeless animals help to find forever homes. They have given preschoolers a vital head start to succeed in school, and filled backpacks with food to ensure that students don’t go hungry when school is not in session. They have helped first-generation college students earn degrees, and created safe spaces where girls can develop skills to become our next generation of leaders.

Giving Day’s success has been fueled by the enthusiastic support of our community — and Fairfield County’s nonprofits continue to count on that support. It’s impossible to truly convey just how large of a role Fairfield County’s nonprofits play in building a thriving local community. They provide innumerable services for a wide range of residents, from children to the elderly and even animals, the arts and the environment. But often, these organizations are left struggling to deliver on their missions due to a lack of resources and funding.

When Giving Day launched in 2014, we thought the need was incredibly great. Unfortunately, we have seen that need continue to grow and today, our nonprofits need these critical donations more than ever.

The good news is that together we have the power to make a difference. Our hope is that this year, we will continue to break fundraising records. And we are aiming to connect more people with the nonprofits that make our community a vibrant, inclusive place to live and work.

Generous partners have also been essential to the success of Giving Day. We are especially grateful for sponsors such as Hearst Connecticut Media, Moffly Media, Whole Foods, 95.9 Fox, Star 99.9, News12 Connecticut, Barrett Outdoor Communications and others that have returned year after year to support Giving Day by funding grant prizes and spreading the word.

It’s been an honor for our organizations to work together alongside our neighbors and friends in championing this annual effort since its inaugural campaign in 2014.

Please consider donating online at FCGives.org on March 1. Together, let’s make a difference in the lives of neighbors in need, and show that the amazing generosity of Fairfield County is alive and well.

Juanita T. James is president and CEO of Fairfield County’s Community Foundation and Bill Tommins is Southern Connecticut Market President, Bank of America.