Volunteers offer ‘Carpenter's Hands'

Carpenter’s Hands Ministry volunteers work in 2011 on an addition to the North Pownal Congregational Church.

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Today, we join good-hearted people across the globe for Giving Tuesday, a day to perform and celebrate acts of generosity through donations of voice, time, money, goods and advocacy. This also marks an important time to launch a giving season that lasts through the holidays and — we sincerely hope — throughout the year.

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012, based on a clear idea: Taking this day to encourage people to do good. That can involve everything from writing a check to a favorite cause, to helping a neighbor in need.

The organization reported that $2.47 billion was donated to U.S. nonprofit groups by a reported 34.8 million people on Giving Tuesday in 2020.

In addition, Giving Tuesday has come to symbolize the start of the giving season, with the final month of the year seeing the most generous donations, linked to the Christmas season.

Vermont Public Radio kicked off a Giving Tuesday effort, announcing that for “every gift to VPR & Vermont PBS on Giving Tuesday, the Vermont Community Foundation and additional generous supporters will donate the equivalent of 25 meals so that the Vermont Foodbank can help Vermonters facing hunger and food insecurity.”

The need is great. According to VPR, the National Food Access and COVID Research Team at UVM found that 1 in 3 people in Vermont has reported facing food insecurity during the pandemic, a dramatic increase from 1 in 10 pre-pandemic. To meet the increased need, the Vermont Foodbank has nearly doubled its distribution as compared to pre-pandemic levels.

Groundworks in Brattleboro focuses its Giving Tuesday efforts on fundraising for Project Feed the Thousands, which runs from the beginning of November to the end of December, raising money for nine food shelves in Windham County.

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Libby Bennett, director of development and communications for Groundworks, said her organization uses the holiday season to conduct the bulk of their annual fundraising. She said the needs are enormous — with both of Groundworks shelters full and 91 households staying in hotels for housing. There is also a call for warm winter coats, hats and gloves, as well as people willing to prepare and serve meals at the new 54 South Main St. stop-in and overnight shelter (to help, email meals@groundworksvt.org).

Lawson’s Finest Liquids in Waitsfield announced Monday it will honor Giving Tuesday with donations to 32 charities and nonprofit organizations across Vermont totaling $78,500. The donations span a variety of causes from affordable housing to mental health advocacy and many more.

In Bennington County, there are organizations ranging from the Project Against Violent Encounters, the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless, Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services Inc. and many others that are providing meals, shelter, clothing, safety from abuse and so many other services that make life just a bit easier for those in need. Ask around; focus on issues that speak to your heart; or simply reach out to a neighbor who might seem isolated and lonely.

Habitat for Humanity could use a little help after thieves broke into a storage trailer at a Pownal homesite earlier this month, stealing several power tools. In a letter to the editor of the Bennington Banner, the organization invited the thieves to return the stolen tools and join volunteers who are building the home for a needy family. And the {span}Turning Point Center of Bennington has been helping a record number of people with substance use issues at a time when opiate overdose deaths are at an all-time high.

Unfortunately, there is no shortage of neighbors who could use a helping hand.

As Giving Tuesday says, “People can show their generosity in a variety of ways during Giving Tuesday. Whether it’s helping a neighbor, advocating for an issue, sharing a skill or finding virtual volunteer opportunities with their favorite causes — everyone has something to give and every act of generosity counts.”