Non-Profit Fundraisers Hit Hard by COVID-19 Outbreak
WHEELING – Many non-profit organizations around the Ohio Valley are being forced to cancel their fundraisers in the upcoming months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Events such as the Helping Heroes’ “Night to Remember” at River City in Wheeling, the CASA’s Superhero 5K race at The Highlands and Wheeling Health Right’s 27th Annual Chefs’ Auction inside WesBanco Arena have all been canceled with no makeup dates in sight.
Last year, those three events raised a combined $123,000, income that will not be there this year.
“It’s going to be a massive loss for us,” Wheeling Health Right Executive Director Kathie Brown said. “The Chefs’ Auction helped raise $90,000 a year and we depend on that. It’s a painful loss, but we have to be morally and ethically responsible and cannot bring a group of people together right now.”
Helping Heroes has been helping to house homeless veterans since 2013, and co-founder Jeremy Harrison was looking forward to their seventh annual “Night to Remember” fundraiser scheduled for May 15 at River City. The night of catered dinner, music, basket raffles and prizes has increased in attendance and has continued to raise more money every year since it kicked off in 2014.
“That event is huge,” Harrison said of the fundraiser. “It’s our biggest attended event, we have a lot of sponsors and it is very well attended. In addition to canceling that, we also have smaller fundraisers, all of which are canceled with no makeup dates.
“It is also important to point out that we are still taking care of our clients. This is not affecting us as far as hurting the homeless veterans goes.”
Harrison is still hoping not all will be lost during this crucial time period.
“We are looking to ask the community to support us during this time,” he said.
They still have one person in the office answering phones, so they’re asking people to call before coming by their location.
“For a local, small, non-profit organization that does a lot of work, it’s really difficult to host these events because we won’t have that money,” he said.
The Helping Heroes “Night to Remember” brought in $21,000 last year.
Despite the event cancellation, Harrison has come up with some creative ideas to hopefully make some of that money back.
“We just made a new style shirt for Helping Heroes,” he said. “We are asking people to buy shirts, 50/50 tickets and we have it arranged to be dropped off and they can leave money on the porch.
“That’s one way to do it. We’re trying to get creative and are asking people to purchase tickets for the canceled events to support us and are also doing a Facebook Live event. We will announce the 50/50 ticket winner and we always give out a scholarship and we will announce the recipient on Facebook Live.”
Susan Harrison, Jeremy’s wife, is the executive director for CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) in Marshall County, which also canceled this year’s Superhero 5K race, their “signature fundraiser” that raised $12,000 a year ago. In response, they’re considering a brand new event in August called the Kayak with CASA Creek Float.
“Maybe we can supplement some of the income we lost with this new fundraiser,” she said. “We still want families to participate from a virtual platform with no cost and our donation tab is still open but offices are closed.
“I think it’s important to know that we are still open for business, we just look different now. Families can still contact us and we will help with resources, just in a social distancing format.”
The Chefs’ Auction was going to be a must-see event with cover band HIT Play set to perform, along with an online auction.
“It was going to be bigger and better this year,” Brown said. “We still have the capability of doing (the online auction). We have some items donated but we haven’t decided if we are going to do that or not. With all this going on, we can’t get the staff together to discuss it, but it’s a very possible scenario.”
Wheeling Health Right still remains open for business.