Giving Tuesday, held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is becoming a traditional day of charitable giving for many in Parsons and the surrounding area, celebrating the good work being done in communities.

The global day of charitable giving at the beginning of the holiday season is being observed for the third year in a row in Parsons. It’s hosted by the Parsons Area Community Foundation. 

PACF is a nonprofit charity with a focus on local community improvement through grants and community leadership. Donors have many ways to support specific area charities, a charitable interest or give to unrestricted funds used by the board to address community needs.

Last year, area residents contributed $115,030 to 16 endowed funds; the PACF provided an additional $30,000 in matching funds and $6,100 was given in prizes to endowments for $151,130 in total contributions.

At this year’s day-long event, running from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., people can come in and enjoy the festive atmosphere, see friends they haven’t seen in a while, meet new people, and learn about the 17 endowed funds to which they can contribute. Donors can give cash, check or credit card, or donations can be made online.

“If you are new to the area, or have been in the area but have never attended a Giving Tuesday, we just encourage people to come by,” PACF Director Joan Vitt said. “No amount is too small. Anything can be donated that day. It gives people a chance to walk up to the different booths and find out, ‘What’s this fund all about?’ Every fund has to be endowed. That’s one of the rules. That means money will go on in perpetuity for the area. All of the money raised goes back to any of the organizations. None of the money, if it’s collected that day, goes to the operation of the foundation.”

The foundation will have a table called Touch the Future. That money doesn’t go to salaries or any operations. It goes directly to the grants as well, and the foundation also doesn’t participate in the $30,000 match.

“We want to make sure it goes out to the other organizations,” Vitt said. “There is going to be a fund that touches every heart there that day, whether it’s athletics, the fair, the arboretum, Curious Minds, all kinds of things.”

The benefits of giving are not confined to non-profits in Parsons, but charities within a 25-mile radius. This year, the PACF itself gave out more than $230,000 to 34 non-profit grant applicants from municipalities and law enforcement, to parks and recreation and health and wellness, to youth and education. Connecting donors to community needs is helping to make communities in the Parsons area a better place for residents to work and live, Vitt said.

Grants open up on Dec. 1. It’s a fairly simple process to apply, Vitt said. The application period closes Dec. 31. Then the board of directors takes a couple of months to go through all the grant applications.

“Due to the generosity of so many people, we funded almost $233,000 in grants,” Vitt said. 

This year, the annual Giving Tuesday event will be on Dec. 3 at the new Labette Community College Events Center at 1306 Main.

“I want to emphasize, you don’t have to be wealthy to give to local organizations. Any amount of money is so helpful, so we look forward to seeing everyone come in and bring your piggy banks and bring your checkbooks,” Vitt said. “I know people are living paycheck to paycheck, but $5 does a lot to another organization. And it’s an opportunity to put your money right where you want it, where you feel the best about it.

“It’s a very exciting, fun day. If nothing else, just the spirit of people coming together,” Vitt said. “I’m pretty sure right now I have the best job in the whole world.”

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