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Midlands Gives helping local nonprofits on May 4th

It's an annual day of giving where the Central Carolina Community Foundation helps raise money for local nonprofits.

COLUMBIA, S.C. — People will be able to donate on Tuesday, May 4th for Midlands Gives to help nonprofits in the Midlands make an impact on the people in the community.

It's an annual day of giving where the Central Carolina Community Foundation helps raise money for local nonprofits.

With the challenges of the pandemic, some nonprofits are taking part in the giving day for the first time ever.

Starting at 6 am on May 4th, people will be able to donate until midnight.

News 19 checked in with several nonprofits who people may be able to donate to so we could share their story.

Columbia Opportunity Resource

Jared Clary, who serves on the Board of Directors for Columbia Opportunity Resource (COR), says they are a local nonprofit made up of volunteers that focuses on talent retention and fostering local pride.

"Over the past year or so, we've really shifted our focus to talent retention and fostering local pride to help professionals get plugged into the community and really love where they live," said Clary.

The nonprofit has been around for 15 years. Clary says for the past year and a half, they have been working to make a difference in the community.

"We have several signature events that help us foster local pride, get plugged in like Table For Six and Crash Course Columbia," explained Clary. "Just experiences where people can bond and develop relationships with like minded individuals."

Around the holidays this past year, they put together the bikes and blankets drive. Blankets went to the Transitions Homeless Shelter and bikes were given to the Cola Town Bike Collective.

Due to the pandemic, they've had to put several of their big events on hold. With things starting to open back up, they're hoping to add more events to the calendar over the next year.

COR has participated in Midlands Gives over the past couple of years. Through this year's event, the nonprofit are offering different incentives when donating. This includes being able to attend a COR event, to have a year membership with the organization or other opportunities.

"A lot of our community partners are restaurants and entertainment, the industries that were hit the hardest by COVID so we really took time to focus on their needs and how COR can help them kind of get back on their feet and contribute to them rebounding," said Clary.

The money raised from Midlands Gives will be going towards a lot of the nonprofit's programs.

"Really the funding goes to COR, but then we give it right back to the community to try and develop different opportunities for people to get plugged in and just learn about the different hidden gems within Columbia," explained Clary.

The board member believes your donations to their nonprofit will boost the community.

"We have a lot of young people that are moving here. We have a lot of newbies that are moving to the Columbia area. It's not so easy to plug into a new space so our goal is really to just help people find their place in Columbia, get connected and get involved in the activities that mean the most to them," said Clary. "Really just trying to figure out how they can love where they live."

RELATED: Nonprofits prepare for Midlands Gives next Tuesday

Suzuki Academy Columbia

Sarah Evanovich is the director of Suzuki Academy Columbia. The nonprofit is the only Suzuki program in the state.

They teach kids as young as three-years-old to play violin, viola, cello and classical guitar. Kids can stay in the program through high school.

"Our mission statement is to enrich the lives of children through studying a musical instrument from an early age in order to develop positive character traits to become good citizens," said Evanovich.

The program has been around for nearly 11 years. They originally started at the University of South Carolina School of Music. Three years ago, Suzuki Academy Columbia became a nonprofit and moved into their own space in West Columbia.

This is their second year participating in Midlands Gives.

"Last year, we were trying to raise money for our tuition and assistance fund. Of course we had a lot of unknown things happening because of the pandemic," explained Evanovich. "This year we would like to give three full scholarships to students who can either be beginners in the program or current students who demonstrate need on a scholarship application."

The nonprofit would like to bring in guests artists to work with the kids as well. The goal for the program for this year's Midlands Gives is $10,000.

"We have a really great community here at the Suzuki program. The kids get private lessons and a group class every week so it just really builds friendships," said Evanovich. "Usually they're in the program for the long-term. We have students who have been here all 11 years now. They make friends. The parents make friends and we're able to do a lot of things for the students that really develop them as a person, not just playing an instrument. It's more about developing the whole person and their character."

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Columbia Green

Trace Ballou is the President of Columbia Green. The non profit has been around for 37 years. Columbia Greene has partnered with the City of Columbia for tree planting, funding trees and beautifying the city.

"We do that in the form of neighborhood grants to organizations in small groups who want to beautify public spaces like medians in their neighborhood or church parking lot areas or areas at schools," said Ballou.

Typically each year the organization has the Festival of Garden to help raise money to give out grants to different groups and organizations for plantings.

The organization is working to plant dozens of trees on public and private lane and also help teach the community about the importance of trees.

"Also we have gotten a grant recently from a very generous donor in Columbia to fund a city-wide public land planting of shade trees that will memorialize unsung community leaders across the diverse neighborhoods in Columbia," explained Ballou. "I'm really excited about that project, Columbia Green is helping to facilitate that project and we're about ready to start on that."

Ballou says Columbia Green's mission is to help promote sustainable native species and planting because of the need of cleaner air and water.

The nonprofit has taken part in Midlands Gives for at least five years.
"We want to be more of a source for the community and, you know, not just have an impact on one life but really on the life of everyone here in Columbia and we really believe we can do that by partnering with other like minded organizations," said Ballou.

Columbia Green has started working with the Gills Creek Watershed Association, Habitat for Humanity and other community organizations.

Columbia Green was impacted by the pandemic this past year because they were not able to have their Festival of Gardens, which raises money for grants they give out to other organizations.

On a positive note, the pandemic gave the nonprofit time to think about what else they wanted to.

"I think that we are only as strong as our membership, and we really want to continue our own programming and engage our membership into some proactive solution based actions around town that will make a difference," explained Ballou.

They are hopeful people will join Columbia Green. To learn more about what they do and how you can get involved, click here.

"We know we need to engage every age, every, every part of this diverse town," said Ballou. "We really see ourselves as an agent of change, but we need to have membership. Of course we need to have membership, just like any other group."

Whisker Tales Rescue

Marie Moon is the President of Whisker Tales Rescue. The nonprofit takes part in TNR (Trap-neuter-return). They help take care of all sorts of cats, including those who are orphaned.

"Our motto is every kitten has, has a story to tell. And so when we adopt the cats out, we tell our doctors a story, and then we say you get to finish the rest of the story," said Moon.

The nonprofit also helps with palliative care to make sure cats are taken care of and don't die alone.

Whisker Tales Rescue has been an organization for about three years. While they started with five core partners, they've now expanded to 11.

This will be the first year the nonprofit has participated in Midlands Gives.

"Donators and supporters are critical to our mission. We're like a shelter. In a lot of ways, we're a rescue. Our constraints are always resources of space and money," explained Moon. "We thought well this is a good way to tell our story and get our name out there and hopefully, you know, get some support and maybe some adopters and some volunteers and stuff."

The coronavirus pandemic impacted the way the rescue was able to operate. With in-store adoptions events not being an option, they had to rely on things like Petfinder and social media to help get cats adopted.

"We just used those kind of tools to just keep adopting and actually adoptions went up through most COVID," said Moon. "I think people were home and lonely and wanted some joy in their life, and we had a hard time keeping kittens for a long time, people were really adopting a lot."

They say cats coming to homes have made a tremendous impact on the families who adopt them. They recently had a family tell them that the cat they adopted has made them feel at peace for the first time in their life.

Whisker Tales Rescue hopes to build a sanctuary for kittens and also have a neonatal nursery with donations from Midlands Gives.

"We're a very passionate rescue group. We think that every life matters. Every person in my rescue is dedicated. We feel this as a calling to us," explained Moon. "We give the highest standard of care to all the cats and kittens. It's a real passion processor or calling."