Last weekend, instead of going door to door trying to sell items that many people don’t want, or standing on a corner simply asking people for cash donations, a couple of local volunteer groups rolled up their sleeves and went to work to earn some money for their favorite causes.
On Saturday, a group of 22 Kansas University students fanned out across the city to rake leaves and do other yard work in exchange for donations for Lawrence Habitat for Humanity. Local residents probably were happy to pay the students for their labors and even more happy that their dollars would go to a good cause like Habitat for Humanity, which helps provide housing to low-income people in the community. At the end of the day, the students were able to contribute $1,150 to the agency without digging into their own pockets for a donation.
Another similar situation involved a partnership between Downtown Lawrence Inc. and Just Food, a local food bank. Volunteers for the agency gathered downtown Sunday morning to wrap green garlands and attach red bows to 174 lampposts for the holiday season. The weather was a little colder than the student yard workers enjoyed on Saturday, but the volunteers raised $1,500 for Just Food, enough to provide 7,500 meals to people in Douglas County.
Downtown Lawrence’s executive director said the organization had paid a private company to install the decorations last year, but was pleased to work out an arrangement that would put that money into a local charitable effort like Just Food. The agency will continue to work with DLI through the holiday season by placing collection boxes at more than 30 downtown stores for people who want to contribute to their cause. They hope to raise another $5,000 along with canned food donations to help local families during the holiday season.
Especially in the current tight economy, efforts like the two this weekend are a great way to raise funds for worthy causes. Volunteers are performing tasks for which businesses or individuals are willing to pay and using that money to support their charitable efforts. A small amount of money may be diverted from private businesses that might have been hired to perform the same tasks, but probably not enough to significantly affect their bottom line.
It seems like a win-win for both the donors and the agencies that will put their dollars to good use.