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Nonprofits and the people they serve need us more than ever

It’s pretty easy to take for granted the generosity that abounds in our northern Michigan communities.

Not a day passes when we don’t hear about someone or some organization doing right by its neighbors in the Grand Traverse region. That generosity transcends nearly everything that works to divide us, even politics.

Maybe that’s why we arrive at the doorstep of the season of giving this year with a little trepidation.

The past eight months haven’t been kind to many of us. It has been especially cruel to our most vulnerable neighbors.

That added adversity — both for nonprofit service organizations and the people they help — threatens to leave some in our community behind this season. Fewer trips to the grocery store between now and the new year, fewer strolls along downtown streets, fewer hats passed all will take their toll on the organizations upon which so many depend.

They’re the organizations that swoop in with help to tide folks over through a tough winter — bags of groceries, a few toys for Christmas or a stack of firewood. They’re the organizations to which we often give generously in good times and rely upon in bad.

Well, times are tough for many in northern Michigan, and those organizations, if they aren’t already, will see a surge in demand during the next few months. To complicate things further, many of the region’s most important nonprofit aid organizations now will struggle against a disrupted path to donors.

Fewer trips to the grocery store as COVID-19 rages and we hunker, means fewer handfuls of change tossed into the bucket, fewer canned food items dropped into the bin, and fewer toys placed into boxes.

And the surge in COVID-19 cases, corresponding concerns about exposures and school closures couldn’t come at a worse time. Many children depend upon schools for consistent meals, and connection to services. Likewise, nonprofits bank on connections with donors made through seasonal in-person events and interactions.

Those new challenges all land at a time when barriers between nonprofits and donors seem to be rising, on the doorstep of a season when many charitable organizations receive more than 30 percent of their annual donations.

We know, if asked, our community will come through for our neighbors in need.

We have watched that generosity manifest itself in every corner of our region time and again.

We also know that generosity will find its way to shine once again this year. Maybe those pockets of change will be replaced by a single check, those canned goods swapped for a gift card.

No matter how it happens we know our community will come though. It always does.

— Traverse City Record-Eagle. Nov. 15, 2020

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