Panhandle Gives fundraising event presents opportunity for non-profits

Photo by John Lee From left, Leona Willis (Pampa Senior Citizens Center), Alissha Jefferis (CASA of the High Plains), Donna Brauchi (GrayCares Living at Home), Faustina Curry (PAWS), Jana Vinson (Pampa Education Foundation), Sara Carmichael (Meals on Wheels) and Amanda Smillie (Tralee Crisis Center).

Among the many losses of 2020 is the ability for non-profits to raise funds through usual banquets, events and other fundraisers.Starting next week on Monday, Nov. 23 through Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1, area non-profits are campaigning through #ThePanhandleGives.“Giving Tuesday is always on the first Tuesday in December,” Amanda Smillie of Tralee Crisis Center said. “Well the Amarillo Area Foundation extended that and started a campaign called #ThePanhandleGives and it goes the whole week before Giving Tuesday.”This is the fifth-annual #ThePanhandleGives is being hosted by the Amarillo Area Foundation with the Foundation covering the fees for online gifts, which allows to 100 percent of donations to go toward the agencies.AAF established the “Amplification Fund” made up of money given from foundations, corporate sponsors, and individual donors. One hundred percent of all donations raised by the organizations are kept by that organization. In addition, each participating organization that raised at least $250 during the campaign, receives a percentage match of the total amount of the amplification fund.“Any money we raise during the #ThePanhandleGives week is amplified with basically free money through the Amarillo Area Foundation,” Smillie said. “That’s why it’s a big deal for non-profits this year because we’ve been hit so hard with COVID-19 and been unable to hold our traditional fundraisers.”Among those non-profits taking part in the campaign are Pampa non-profits Tralee Crisis Center, Pampa Senior Citizens Center, CASA of the High Plains, GrayCares, Pampa Education Foundation, PAWS and Meals on Wheels.Donating through Panhandle Gives can be done online or at FirstBank Southwest or Happy State Bank.“Those are the only banks in Pampa where you can make an in-person donation to #ThePanhandleGives,” Donna Brauchi of GrayCares said. “Those are the banks that have been set up for donations and their tellers know what to do when you say, ‘I would like to donate to #ThePanhandleGives.’”Donors do not have to have an account at either of those banks to donate to #ThePanhandleGives.Checks or cash need to be made out to The Panhandle Gives and donors are encouraged to put on the memo line the non-profit they would like to donate to.Brauchi added the online giving is easier this year.“You can search (for the non-profit) and you put in the name of the organization and it takes you to their page where there is a ‘donate’ button,” Brauchi said. “You do it and you can give to as many or as few organizations you want. The really good selling point through The Panhandle Gives is you maximize your dollars. I like to do that as a donor.”What these seven organizations do:Tralee Crisis CenterSince 1984, Tralee Crisis Center has been “the place to go” for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and other violent crimes from the eastern Texas Panhandle.  Tralee’s trained advocates and volunteers offer crisis intervention, safe shelter, emergency transportation, advocacy, criminal justice, law enforcement and medical accompaniment, counseling and comprehensive support services to help victims become survivors. Here’s what one survivor had to say: “During my stay (at Tralee’s shelter), I took advantage of the counseling that is offered and allowed staff in the shelter and business office to help me take back my life. I am currently employed and have a home with my six-year-old. They have helped every step of the way even if it’s just reassurance that I can do it.  It’s a great place with wonderful people. I hope to work there one day. I can not be grateful enough for the service that they provide. It changed my life.”Pampa EducationFoundationPampa Education Foundation is in its 13th year of providing funding of teacher grants for materials, resources and projects for Pampa students. The Foundation’s mission is to enhance student academics. For the last 13 years the foundation has provided teachers and their classrooms with science equipment, electronic items for all subjects, vocational tools, guest speakers and workshops, field trips, learning enrichment items and many more needed items.A few years ago, a teacher received a grant from the Pampa Education Foundation. She used that grant to teach about engineering and its use in our life. She reported that it was one of the most exciting classes she ever had the privilege of teaching. She had hoped for years that she could find a way to share her love and excitement about the engineering and physics of amusement parks, but was unable to find the funding until she learned about the PEF grants. “I used the grant from The Pampa Education Foundation to fund the class. It was life changing for both my students and myself!” - Debbie W.If you would like to help other teachers to give their students life changing experiences, please consider giving to The Pampa Education Foundation through thepanhandlegives2020.Pampa Senior Citizens CenterPampa Senior Citizens Center, located at 500 W. Francis, provides a place for members to gather and visit, enjoy a meal, play cards and bingo and a variety of other activities.CASA of the High PlainsCASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate.The main purpose of CASA is to recruit and train volunteers to advocate for children that have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. CASA volunteers are committed everyday people-- teachers, business people, retirees, stay-at-home parents, and grandparents. The children in our community need a voice to speak for them. When home is no longer safe and a child must enter foster care, the judge appoints a CASA to advocate for that child to find a safe and permanent home as soon as possible.  To reach our vision of providing a CASA volunteer for every child, we need to ask for your support. CASA of the High Plains spends about $2500 per child every year. This past year alone we have served over 100 children from the 8 counties we serve. Donate today and help make sure every child in foster care has someone to advocate for them.GrayCares Living at HomeFor 11 years, GrayCares Living at Home has been providing nonmedical, independent living services for people ages 65 and older in Pampa and Lefors.  Our volunteers provide local transportation, take out trash, change lightbulbs and batteries, make calls, send cards, build wheelchair ramps and rails, make minor repairs, rake leaves, clean flower beds, and other similar services without charge.  How does this make a difference to our older neighbors? • Older neighbors like Mary have no family to help them. Mary depends on GrayCares for local transportation and assistance with banking and groceries.• GrayCares helped build a ramp for a wheelchair bound older neighbor who said going down the ramp was the first time she had been out of her house for two years.• Then there are others that turn to GrayCares just because they are lonely. Phone calls, visits, and cards from volunteers help them stay in touch with the community.•Our Christmas Blessing Bags are delivered in December by volunteers to each older neighbor served by GrayCares to show them they are valued and loved.GrayCares is making a difference in allowing older neighbors to continue living independently and safely.  We look forward to serving in 2021!PAWSPAWS is a 100 percent volunteer 501c(3) non-profit organization dedicated to saving and improving the lives of the shelter animals at the Pampa animal shelter. We make adoptions, reclaims, and transfers of animals to no kill rescues (5 percent animals saved in 2010 --> 91 percent animals saved in 2019). Plus, we provide life saving vaccines and medical care for at risk animals in the shelter and community. PAWS encourages, educates, and runs a low income spay/neuter program to reduce the number of unwanted pets. We provide a path towards loving, forever homes through responsible pet ownership.Meals on WheelsWe are a Nonprofit Organization that provides hot, nutritious meals to the elderly and homebound, of Gray County. We currently deliver 275 meals, Monday - Friday. We have volunteers that deliver the meals. We have also been serving several homeless a hot meal daily. Our program continues to grow daily. Most of our patrons can not afford to buy their medicine, let alone food, so they depend on us for their daily meal, this is also the only outside contact, a lot of these people get, some have no family or friends to check on them daily, so if it wasn’t for our organization and volunteers, they would not get a meal and/or have a contact with anyone.For more information or to donate, visit

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