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West Virginia philanthropic groups work to dull COVID’s impact

PARKERSBURG — A spring campaign that raised more than half a million dollars is just one way West Virginia’s philanthropic community is trying to help the state’s residents weather the storm of COVID-19.

The results of May’s Take 5 to Give 5 campaign were discussed at a virtual press conference Thursday hosted by Philanthropy West Virginia to highlight the efforts and ongoing needs.

“It just proves that when the state is in a crisis, people pull together and resources come to the surface,” said Bob Boone, president of the Parkersburg-based Bernard McDonough Foundation.

The McDonough Foundation contributed $10,000 in matching funds for the Take 5 to Give 5 campaign, which encouraged donations to support the state’s nonprofits. It was started with $50,000 in seed money from Toyota, said Srini Matam, market president for Toyota Motor Manufacturing West Virginia, during Thursday’s Zoom conference.

The organizations’ help was needed more than ever because of the effects of businesses slowing and shutting down to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus, Matam said.

“And yet, the budgets were immediately strained due to COVID, and still are,” he said, noting many fundraisers have been canceled as a result of the virus and prevention efforts.

Toyota and the McDonough Foundation were joined by United Bank ($25,000), the Highmark Foundation ($19,000), West Virginia American Water ($10,000) and an anonymous donor in backing the effort.

“It was a natural for us, and we knew we had to get involved,” said Cathy McAlister, with the Highmark Foundation, noting that improving the health of communities served by insurer Highmark Inc. is the goal of the charitable foundation.

Take 5 to Give 5 raised more than $510,000, said Paul Daugherty, president and CEO of Philanthropy West Virginia, an association of charitable foundations and grantmakers. That money was deployed to 22 relief funds and and nonprofit organizations serving all 55 counties in West Virginia. It addressed issues including food insecurity, small business support, sustained operations for nonprofits and basic human needs, Daugherty said.

The Parkersburg Area Community Foundation’s efforts were supported by the program. A portion of the funds received locally went to a rent and utilities assistance program in conjunction with the Sisters Health Foundation, United Way Alliance of the Mid-Ohio Valley and the City of Parkersburg, said Julie Posey, development and communications officer for the foundation.

With funding from multiple sources, that program has assisted 47 families with $57,000, she said.

As cases of the virus rise, “we are projecting to see needs increase,” Posey said, noting the foundation has received requests in recent weeks for food assistance and operational support of nonprofits. “We still have some funding available to meet those requests.”

Philanthropy West Virginia’s 56 members have given more than $11 million to COVID relief, Daugherty said.

“It does sound like a lot. But in reality, the need is much greater than that,” he said.

Thursday’s conference also emphasized the approach of Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1. That’s the name given to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving to promote charitable giving in conjunction with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Daugherty said people can find ways to contribute by reaching out to their local nonprofits or visiting the websites of Philanthropy West Virginia (philanthropywv.org), the West Virginia Nonprofit Association (wvnpa.org) and the United Way Collaborative of West Virginia, via wv211.org.

“There’s multiple opportunities statewide and locally to support,” he said.

Evan Bevins can be reached at ebevins@newsandsentinel.com.

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