The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the dynamics of fundraising for non-profits and membership organizations. Here at Sertoma, we have been blessed to have not only members supporting our mission but communities coming together and embracing the message "Service to Mankind." Many Sertoma Clubs have expanded their purpose in response to the pandemic and with that had to be creative with their fundraising techniques. One club combined their passion for Christmas and resourcefulness to ensure the children in their local communities would still have a great holiday.
Each year the Jackson County Sertoma Club conducts what's known as the 'Sertoma Christmas Miracle.' The Christmas Miracle provides gifts for needy children by delivering them to their house on Christmas Eve morning. The club usually serves around 700 children in Jackson County, Indiana.
"We have been conducting this effort for 40 plus years. We utilize approximately 200 local residents, just on delivery day alone. Wrapping, shopping for gifts, assembly of gift boxes, and other activities involve hundreds of uncounted local residents in preparing for Christmas Eve morning deliveries."– James Kloote.
Initially, the Sertoma Christmas Miracle worked by having a set location for presents to be donated. An application would then be sent out to various social services agencies, churches, and other appropriate organizations for families to complete. Once completed, families mail the application into the club's post office box. Applications are then processed and filed through United Way's Charity Tracker (a website for non-profits to share information) to ascertain whether the family has been served through some other service organization, to confirm they live in Jackson County, and that each children fits the age requirement.
Approved applications are transformed into paper angels that list the information needed for the Christmas gift purchase and tracking for delivery. The paper angels are then given to local organizations, civic clubs, and church groups to be hung on Christmas trees located throughout the county.
Individuals take the angels, buy gifts, and bring them to a fixed location. The gifts are wrapped, marked with the child's name, put in a box with their sibling's gifts, and stored until Christmas Eve morning. Some groups and individuals prefer to buy undesignated gifts or make case donations to purchase gifts. These undesignated gifts and donations are used for late applications or for children whose angels got lost in the process.
As was said previously, this is how Christmas Miracle initially worked. Then, 2020 came along. As a club, the decision was made that it was not feasible or safe to volunteer in person, so the club created Plan B.
Plan B involved The Jackson County Sertoma Club soliciting donations from previous givers, new donors, and spreading the word with numerous pleas for cash donations instead of in-kind toy and clothes donations. Fortunately, their community responded with incredible generosity that surpassed all previous years.
In 2020, they simply gathered applications and processed them and mailed $35.00 restricted-use gift cards from Big Lots for each child. The Christmas Miracle almost served as many families and kids as usual, ensuring the children of Jackson County had gifts waiting for them under the tree!
"Christmas Miracle is as much owned and conducted by the Jackson County community as it is a Sertoma function. Our club is small, and many of our members are aging. Without community support, we would not be able to serve near as many in our community as we do."– James Kloote.
The Jackson County Sertoma Club has already started preparing for Christmas 2021 with plans to host a benefit concert on November 24, 2021with live music, raffles, and more. Another Christmas miracle in the making. https://www.facebook.com/sertomabenefitconcert