Couple’s stimulus challenge helps nonprofits in the region



A Dayton couple is encouraging people who are not in need to donate all or part of their stimulus checks to nonprofits or small businesses in the region, following the #StimulusChallenge national grassroots effort.

The effort is one of many launched by caring Dayton area people who want to help organizations like the Salvation Army, Hannah’s Treasure Chest, House of Bread, St. Vincents, The Foodbank and others during the coronavirus outbreak.

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Husband and wife Marshall Weil and Gisselle Pereira and others launched a simple website, Anyone can sign up on the site to pledge all or part of their stimulus funds to nonprofits and small businesses.

No money is processed through the site; it’s an honor-system method designed to help show local commitments for nonprofit and small business support.

Just 48 hours into the campaign, the challenge has passed $100,000. More than 50 pledges have come from Ohio, Washington, New York, South Carolina and Texas.

Weil and Pereira said they plan to use their stimulus checks to give back to struggling organizations.

“We know there are a lot of ways we could personally spend the stimulus money,” said Weil, director of development at YWCA Dayton. “But we also haven’t personally experienced financial hardship in this time. Making a really intentional effort to invest in nonprofits and small businesses was important to us, and we wanted to make an easy way to encourage others to support them, too.”

Pereira said it will take a team effort to battle the pandemic, and she believes the Miami Valley region is up to the task.

“The focus of the campaign is US – this impacts all of us, and we’re all in it together,” said Pereira. “Our communities are largely driven by all of the wonderful small businesses and organizations who are changing lives every day. It is on all of us to make sure they make it through this.”

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One of those organizations is the Washington Twp.-based Society for the Improvement of Conditions for Stray Animals (SICSA). The organization has been tested by the coronavirus.

“We’ve definitely experienced some changes due to this pandemic. Since we are not doing any adoptions, all of our animals had to move into foster care,” spokeswoman, Samantha Hoefler told the Dayton Daily News. “We also had to cancel all spay and neuter surgeries, which greatly affects the cat population as we enter kitten season.”

Hoefler noted that SICSA also owns pet food franchise, Pet Wants Dayton. The location for Pet Wants is at the Second Street Market which is no longer open due to the pandemic, so it had to move back to SICSA.

“We have opened a new online store featuring Pet Wants food, treats, chews and handmade pet accessories and toys and more. These items can be delivered or picked up through a curbside pickup.”

The Salvation Army has been busy across the Miami Valley during the pandemic lending a hand.

“The Salvation Army provides essential services in every zip code in the U.S. Wherever there is a need, we’re already there, meeting that need,” the non-profit said in a statement.

Deanna Murphy, executive director of Hannah’s Treasure Chest, which provides care packages to children through a network of nearly 50 partner agencies in Butler, Greene, Montgomery and Warren counties, said she is happy to see the effort being made by those in the community to help them during the coronavirus.

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“We are still up and running to continue providing essential items to local children in need. We are open to partner agencies only two days a week to reduce interaction with the public,” Murphy said. Our volunteers are almost exclusively age 60 and above so they’re at highest-risk for being affected by this virus. Many of them have chosen to self-isolate at home and we’re thankful for their vigilance.”

With the closure of Goodwill and other pantries and donation centers, HTC has become one of the only places in the region that is still open and accepting the particular items that families with children need.

“This has resulted in an explosion of in-kind donations, as we’ve seen about a 200% increase while our human capacity to process these donations has dwindled by about 75%,” Murphy said. “We receive requests for care packages from area agencies and those requests are on the rise as many families are finding themselves in a new position of needing assistance. Just this week, our volunteers are filling requests for 60 children—and it’s only Tuesday. These are record levels of requests for our organization.”

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