Nonprofit organizations consider Giving Tuesday very important to raising critical funds.

Georgia nonprofits, including many in Brookhaven, Buckhead, Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, are participating in GAGives today, as part of the national Giving Tuesday campaign. 

The Sandy Springs Education Force enrolled 92 students from Dunwoody Springs and Ison Springs Elementary schools in 2021 in its Summer Book Club. Students met virtually to discuss the book of the week and participate in related activities.

In 2020, participation in GAGives rose by 94% with more than 260,000 donations. Those donations raised almost $25 million last year.

“GA Gives on Giving Tuesday is important to local communities and their citizens because everyone lives their lives in nonprofits,” said Buckhead resident Karen Beavor, president and CEO of the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. “You may not realize that, but consider that you may have adopted your pet at a nonprofit like PAWS; use a local park or enjoy a night out at a performing arts center; send your child to a nonprofit day care or sports league like YO at Chastain; or have a family member that benefited from nonprofit disease research or healthcare at a nonprofit like Grady. Nonprofits touch our lives in a myriad of ways, and we should support them.”

Members of the public can find nonprofits to support at the GAGives website.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to give back so that you can support our local nonprofits so that they can continue their work, especially now in the pandemic where everything has gotten to be exasperated,” Irene Schweiger, executive director of the Sandy Springs Education Force, told Reporter Newspapers.

She said nonprofits work to fill a void in the community, helping those in the most need. 

“We always think about those around us less fortunate and all of that, but Giving Tuesday … kind of focuses that energy towards doing something actively to help those people,” said Francis Horton, CEO and president of the Community Assistance Center (CAC).

He said giving is important to the community because even though Sandy Springs is a relatively affluent place, a number of city residents live below the poverty line.

The stretch between Thanksgiving and the New Year is one of the most important times of year for organizations that depend upon donations. That’s because it helps nonprofits start the new year strong, said Dottie Head, executive director of the Georgia Audubon Society.

“We have a lot to be proud of, of these nonprofits here in Sandy Springs. It really, truly is the fabric of our community. It really is. And I just can’t say enough about all of them,” Schweiger said.

SSEF Board Secretary Beppie Lever works with a high school student to help apply for post-secondary education opportunities. The nonprofit’s SAIL and Senior Push programs connect high school seniors with mentors and resources.

Sandy Springs Education Force

The Sandy Springs Education Force uses funds to help high school seniors at Riverwood and North Springs high schools pay for things, such as applications for technical schools, colleges or other post-secondary education.

“Some of these students, they have to decide, ‘Do I fill my car up, or their parent’s car up with gas?’ Because many of them don’t have their own cars. ‘Or do I go ahead and fill out an application for this technical school at this college?’” she said.

Volunteers help prepare gifts in a previous year’s adoptive family program to bring cheer to their homes.

Community Assistance Center

Horton with the CAC said they focus their Giving Tuesday efforts on their adoptive family program, giving kids and families “a little bit of cheer this year.”

But, giving doesn’t end on Wednesday. One of Horton’s biggest fears throughout the pandemic was when it comes to an end, people will say they are glad it’s over. But there are still people who need help. 

“We’ve still got people that had no margin before COVID. They still don’t have any margin,” he said.

Horton said he’s convinced that 99 percent of the people who come to CAC don’t want to have to ask for help with rent or go to the food pantry or thrift store.

“But they’re put in a place in life right now, where in order to provide for their family, that’s the option they have,” he said.

The Georgia Audubon Society works on habitat restoration at sites across Georgia including this location at Panola Mountain State Park in Stockbridge and Deepdene Park in Atlanta.

Georgia Audubon

One of the conservation nonprofit organizations that’s part of Giving Tuesday, the Georgia Audubon, has spent the past six years creating a model of bird-friendly habitat restoration at urban greenspaces such as Deepdene Park, Cascade Springs Nature Preserve and Friendship Forest. Work has expanded to state-managed lands such as Panola Mountain State Park, Jekyll Island, and to other public nature areas. In 2022, Georgia Audubon is expanding its bird-friendly restoration team to create healthier habitats.

“This Giving Tuesday, Georgia Audubon is raising funds to provide critical support for our new habitat restoration work and to allow us to continue offering bird-specific educational programs and community outreach to youth and adults alike all across the state,” Head said.

Chris Lopez was one of the students who participated in the Latino Leadership Academy Mentoring Program, the work of the Latin American Association Youth Services.

Latin American Association

Giving Tuesday has helped change the giving landscape for the Latin American Association (LAA) and expand its reach. Over the past three years,  the LAA has been able to increase the number of donors during the Giving Tuesday campaign, said Jessica M. Martinez, director of development.

“Every donation received, no matter the amount, help us continue to fund the critical programs and services that the LAA does every day. From filing family petitions to English-language classes to providing food to families to youth mentorship – lives of fathers, mothers and children are transformed daily by the work of the LAA thanks to the support from our donors,” she said.

The Regufee Women’s Network helps people like this mother and her daughter.

Refugee Women’s Network

 Giving Tuesday is important to the Refugee Women’s Network (RFW) because it allows the nonprofit to connect with supporters and donors to bring together their support, Marjan Nadir, RFW’s Economic Empowerment manager, said.

This year RFW will host an Open House in its new offices.

“This opportunity will allow us to engage our new neighbors, and connect with our supporters, and thank them for anchoring our resiliency despite the consistent challenges of the pandemic and the increased humanitarian crisis that fuel refugee crisis,” Nadir said.

Jasmine Rodriguez with LifeLine Animal Project holds Bella, one of the pets rescued by the nonprofit using funds donated on Giving Tuesday.

LifeLine Animal Project

“Giving Tuesday is LifeLine Animal Project’s biggest annual fundraiser, and we use the donations to help us care for over 40,000 animals in our shelters, clinics and communities each year,” said Karen Hirsch, the nonprofit’s spokesperson.

LifeLine’s shelters were metro Atlanta’s only shelters to remain open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.  The organization’s Pets for Life program remained active, delivering pet food and supplies to the city’s most vulnerable communities who were hit hardest, she said.

“Many people don’t realize that the money that the counties give LifeLine to manage the Fulton and DeKalb County shelters only covers the care of our pets during their stray hold period,” Hirsch said.

LifeLine has to raise funds to cover expenses beyond the three- to five-day hold periods and all other pet expenses, including specialized veterinary care and enrichment, she said.

Some of the nonprofit organizations that are part of Giving Tuesday include:

  • Keep North Fulton Beautiful
  • Sandy Springs Youth Sports
  • The Sandy Springs Society
  • Sandy Springs Womans Club
  • Dunwoody Preservation Trust
  • Dunwoody Nature Center
  • Dunwoody Mikvah Society
  • Dunwoody Student Ministries
  • Brookhaven Community Foundation
  • Brookhaven Park Conservancy
  • Brookhaven Police Foundation
  • Los Vecinos De Buford Highway
  • Back the Blue Buckhead
  • Livable Buckhead
  • Buckhead Heritage Society
  • Buckhead Community Fellowship
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Bob Pepalis

Bob Pepalis covers Sandy Springs for Rough Draft Atlanta and Reporter Newspapers.