East Texas Giving Day raises $2.15 million for charities, up by 65.4% over 2019 

By Ken Hedler

khedler@news-journal.com 

Apr 29th, 2020 

 

East Texas Giving Day raised 65.4% more funds Tuesday than it did a year ago, and 194 of the 195 participating charities received donations that totaled more than $2 million, organizers said. “I think people recognized the need in the community and wanted to do something,” said Holly McFarlin, spokeswoman for East Texas Communities Foundation, which conducted the event, now in its fifth year. 

Numerous East Texas nonprofits had to cancel their annual spring fundraisers because of social distancing rules and shutdowns created by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the shutdowns escalated unemployment, spurring a greater need for many of the entities’ services. The 18-hour online event raised $2.15 million, up from more than $1.3 million raised a year ago, according to results updated Wednesday afternoon at easttexasgivingday.org. The website reported 5,752 donors participated in the 32-county event, up from more than 3,600 a year ago. Donors contributed to all but one of the 195 charities this year, according to the website. That is up from all but about seven of the 185 nonprofit entities that took part a year ago, McFarlin said. 

 

McFarlin said the Texas Shakespeare Festival in Kilgore received the largest donation in Gregg County at $21,419; followed by the Longview Dream Center, which operates a food pantry and clothing giveaway, at $15,212; and the Asbury House Child Enrichment Center, a preschool program for children from low-income families, at $11,508. The Mentoring Alliance in Smith County, which offers after-school programs, received the most at $189,017 of all participating charities. McFarlin said she anticipated the donations would be the leg up that the Shakespeare Festival needed. “I will say that for them, this was a very crucial fundraising time because their seasonwas canceled because of COVID-19,” McFarlin said. “For them, I think this is going to go a long way. ... We at the foundation are amazed at the generosity of our community.” The donation met more than double the $10,000 goal the festival set for East Texas Giving Day, said Matthew Simpson, associate artistic director. “We are thrilled with this,” Simpson said. He said the donation will help the festival organization make ends meet financially for the year. “With the cancellation of our summer season, we were facing pretty significant losses in income,” Simpson said. He said the festival forfeited hundreds of thousands of dollars from ticket sales, concessions and fundraising. “We also do educational workshops over the summer to bring in money,” he said. The Shakespeare Festival, which debuted in 1986, has annually drawn about 6,500 attendees during its five-week run, Simpson said. It normally opens in the last weekend in June at Kilgore College. 

For information about East Teas Giving Day, go to www.easttexasgivingday.org .

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TSF Performance Venue

1200 Henderson Boulevard

Kilgore, TX 75662

(903) 983-8601

info@texasshakespeare.com

TSF Offices and Shops

815 Houston Street

Kilgore, TX 75662

(903) 983-8119

info@texasshakespeare.com

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