The heart of this community never ceases to amaze me.
Just over a week ago, people came together and raised $50,000 for Deputy Greg Green and his family.
Green was injured while working at his guttering business. The fall resulted in him suffering a broken neck. He was rushed to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. He remains hospitalized, paralyzed from the chest down.
That’s just one example of how Cumberland County comes together to help others.
Another is the effort to show appreciation to the frontline medical workers of our community, who have been working so hard these many months of the pandemic. Churches, schools, organizations, businesses and nonprofit groups, like Cumberland Good Samaritans, helped wish them a Happy Thanksgiving last week, with plans to continue showing appreciation to the many people who risk their health and the health of their families each and every day.
There are so many organizations that serve our community day in and day out.
But they’re having trouble serving their community this year. The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many fundraisers being canceled.
Today is Giving Tuesday. Set aside each year following Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages people to give to nonprofit organizations.
What kind of organizations do we have in Cumberland County?
We have food pantries and feeding programs helping ensure people have food to eat. A 2018 report from Feeding America found more than 8,000 Cumberland County residents — 14.3% of our population — faced food insecurity at some point in a year. The percentage increases to 20.2% — more than one out of five children — who suffer from hunger and limited or uncertain food availability during the year.
That’s one reason the school system’s nutrition department worked so hard all year long to keep providing meals during the pandemic and why the USDA has allowed all students to get free meals this school year.
But those meals won’t be available during school break. And the economic impacts of the pandemic could see even more people facing hunger this year than in years past.
We have so many organizations working to help meet this basic need that we cannot list them all here, but you can check with your church or neighbors or coworkers if you would like referrals to organizations in need of donations.
We have programs focused on serving our young people, with emergency intervention services like House of Hope and mentoring services like Kids on the Rise. The Salvation Army also helps children in crisis and the community when disaster strikes.
Cumberland County 4-H offers service and leadership programs for youth, as do so many other clubs and organizations within our schools.
We have programs focused on providing safe and affordable housing. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity continues to work with families to build houses they can make into homes. They have a thrift store that is offering holiday décor as a special fundraiser this year.
Creative Compassion, Inc. helps provide home ownership opportunities, mortgage financing and home repairs. This local organization continues to evaluate how they can help the community through new programs.
We have arts organizations that enhance our quality of life but are struggling to keep their doors open and their lights on. The Cumberland County Playhouse has had to reduce its capacity to meet social distancing requirements and provide a safe place for theater goers.
The Playhouse is also a major tourist draw and an important part of our history. They typically rely on ticket sales, which have been greatly reduced.
Many of our organizations are struggling this year.
Events that once brought us all together to raise funds have been few and far between. That means funds these agencies depended on have been cut short.
And the need grows every day.
How can you help?
You can make a donation. You can start a fundraiser. You can advocate on behalf of organizations you support. You can give your spare change to the people ringing bells at local stores. You can make a donation to a feeding program at your grocery store. You can sign up with Amazon Smiles, Kroger Community Rewards or other programs that give a portion of your purchase to a charity you designate.
You can make a difference, on Giving Tuesday and every day.
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Heather Mullinix is editor of the Crossville Chronicle. Her column is published on Tuesdays. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.