Online challenge emphasizes giving local



WATERBURY — As part of its 90th anniversary celebration, the Connecticut Community Foundation is issuing a challenge to give local.

The Waterbury-based foundation is hosting Give Local Greater Waterbury & Litchfield Hills next week. Give Local is a 36-hour online community giving challenge to support nonprofit organizations within the foundation’s 21-town service area, which includes Beacon Falls, Naugatuck and Prospect.

“The goal of Give Local Greater Waterbury & Litchfield Hills is to shine a spotlight on the incredible work of our nonprofit organizations throughout our 21-town service area,” said Paula Van Ness, president and CEO of Connecticut Community Foundation, in a press release. “We hope to inspire new donors to support these organizations that collectively make our region a stronger, more vibrant place for all.”

The challenge kicks off Nov. 12 at 7 a.m. and runs through 7 p.m. Nov. 13. Over the 36 hours donors can give to any of the more than 120 nonprofits participating in the challenge online at Participating nonprofits will receive 100 percent of donations made to their organizations during the challenge.

Tom Chute from WATR will get things going with a live broadcast Nov. 12 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Ion Bank, 87 Church St., in Naugatuck, according to a release issued by the bank.  The public is encouraged to visit the live broadcast and make a donation at that time, the release stated.

Ion Bank Foundation will be the presenting sponsor for the challenge.

“The Connecticut Community Foundation is one of those organizations that helps a lot of people and does a tremendous amount of good and important work in the local community,” said Charles Boulier III, president and CEO of Ion Bank, in a press release. “The bank and its foundation are pleased to be in a position to help them with their giving drive.”

Participating organizations will also be eligible for $100,000 in matching funds and prizes that will be awarded during the challenge. Organizations can win prize money for feats such as being the nonprofit that raises the most money or a single donation of $1,000 during designated time frames. Random prizes will also be awarded and some of the games are specific to the location of the nonprofits. The first Naugatuck challenge will be held Nov. 12 from 9 to 11 a.m. A $500 prize will be awarded to the Naugatuck nonprofit, with an operating budget under $100,000, which acquires the most new donors in that time. Multiple other prizes will be awarded to Naugatuck-based nonprofits only throughout the challenge.  

“This is a great opportunity for donor dollars to go further. All donations will be enhanced by matching funds and the possibility of cash prizes,” said Edwin Rodriguez, the foundation’s development and community relations officer, in a press release about the challenge.

According to the challenge’s website, the following local nonprofit organizations are among those participating in the giving challenge: Friends of Naugatuck Youth and Family Services, Inc., Guardian ad Litem Services, Inc./Melissa’s Project, Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center, Howard Whittemore Memorial Library, Jane Doe No More, Inc., Naugatuck Discovery, Naugatuck Teen Theater, Naugatuck YMCA, Phoenix Stage Company, Inc and Naugatuck Valley Project.

Guardian ad Litem Services Executive Director Michael Mackniak described the challenge as a “win-win.”

Guardian ad Litem Services, based on Church Street in Naugatuck, was founded to act as a resource for people who are given, or assume, the task of caring for individuals with mental illness. Its signature program is Melissa’s Project, which helps individuals with severe, chronic mental illnesses to live independently in the community.

“It’s a good way to raise money and awareness and keep dollars with the local charities that are impacting our communities directly,” Mackniak said about the challenge.

Mackniak said his organization will be reaching out to the community for its support during the challenge through social media. Also, he said, representatives from the organization will be at the Town Tavern in Middlebury on Nov. 12 and the Pour House in Naugatuck on Nov. 13 from 4 to 7 p.m. both nights to drum up support.

Marilyn Schiraoli, marketing director for the Whittemore Library in Naugatuck, said the challenge is a great opportunity for all the nonprofit organizations in the area.

The challenge opens up a whole new audience of donors to the library, she said. The library typically solicits and receives donations through the mail, she said, not online.

“It’s a whole different ballgame for us,” she said. “We’ll reach a different population.”

Jeanna Pellino, program director at Hidden Acres Therapeutic Riding Center, said one of the main reasons the organization signed up for the challenge was because it’s a great opportunity to raise more awareness about the program and its services.

Pellino said representatives with the center will be reaching out to participants and the public during the campaign through social media, email and other means to spread the word about the challenge.

“I think it’s wonderful, and I’m really excited to see what the results are going to be. This is the first time we’ve done anything like this,” she said.

For more information on Give Local Greater Waterbury & Litchfield Hills or to donate during the challenge, visit