KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) — COVID-19 has affected everything from our health to the economy.
One of the areas it’s hit hardest is in fundraising. So many local organizations depend on donations to do what they do.
From puppies, to playgrounds. Kansas City is rich with charitable organizations to help those in need. But thanks to the pandemic, they are suffering.
“All of our fundraisers were canceled so economically it was devastating to us as a small charity,” said Deborah Wiebrecht with Variety KC.
Variety KC provides children with developmental disabilities adaptive equipment and opportunities they need for inclusion.
Wiebrecht says parents started reaching out right away when schools shut down and playgrounds closed.
“Covid has been a double whammy for us because we represent kids who are high risk, so they’re very vulnerable and we had to right away provide them with the tools and support they needed,” she said.
The kids needed iPads to connect with others and adaptive bikes so they could get outside and play during the shutdown. More than anything, Wiebrecht feared turning any family away–especially during a pandemic.
“I’ve worked harder this year than I’ve worked any other year because of the need of our families. Our funding is so low we have to figure out alternative ways to make sure we’ve got funds because when a family reaches out their hand for help they really need it, so for us to say no I just can’t do that,” said Wiebrecht.
Another organization that never wants to turn anyone away is Hope House. For decades they’ve provided emergency shelter and services to women and children who are victims of domestic violence.
They too are feeling the pinch and it’s coming at a time when they’ve had to change the way they do everything.
“The health department came in as soon as that shut down order came out and said you have to do this very differently. We had 64 people in one shelter and 58 in the other and we could not do that,” said MaryAnn Metheny, Hope House CEO.
Women and children are now housed in hotels. Those in the shelters are socially distanced with everyone required to use PPE.
Couple all of that with the fact the incidence rate for domestic violence is soaring and more dangerous than ever.
“The abuse that people have been experiencing has just been really severe and the injuries that are reported and what they’re experiencing have just been so severe so that just really has said to us we really need to make sure that we can be here to provide services because people are in great need right now,” said Metheny.
Hope House operates on a 6-million dollar budget they have to raise every year. Right now, they’re asking for cash donations and donations of new clothing and toys to add to their Holiday Store, so mothers and children can “shop” for Christmas gifts this month.
KC Pet Project is also seeing a big shift in what people need from them.
“The thing that we really realized as an industry throughout the pandemic is that the things that affect people also affect their pets,” said Tori Fugate.
No longer is it just a place to adopt a new furry family member. It’s also a place people are turning to out of desperation during the pandemic.
“We’re seeing more pets that are coming in because of financial hardship that families are going through. We have seen people that their entire family is sick with Covid and don’t really know what to do with their pet, so we started doing things like temporary fostering to help families stay together–to keep pets and people together,” said Fugate.
Fugate says the last thing the shelter wants is to see a family going through a rough patch forced to surrender a dog or cat that brings so much happiness.
It’s because of stories like that they launched “Keep Them Together KC.”
“To keep families together so that when a family comes to us and says ‘you know, I have to give up my beloved pet for this reason’, we can say we have these resources to be able to offer so that you can you and your pet can stay together,” said Fugate.
And now that they’ve taken over for animal control, they’re out in the community, offering food, straw and shelter to animals who are suffering because their families are suffering. Fugate says the goal is to become an automatic resource for people in Kansas City.
These three organizations rely on donations to fill the needs of people here at home and they’re doing what everyone else is being forced to do–adjust to a situation no one has ever dealt with before.
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