Auction Fundraiser Will Support Interfaith Human Services' Efforts to Provide a Helping Hand
Like many area nonprofits and organizations, Interfaith Human Services has felt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in more ways than one. Demand for certain services are up, but obtaining the funds to provide those services is becoming more of a challenge as in-person fundraising events aren’t possible due to group gathering restrictions.
“We’ve already had one event we were planning to do this summer — which was going to be totally new to the community — canceled, just because you can’t have crowds or a group of people together,” says executive director Curt Knouse.. “I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag [where the event is concerned], because hopefully we can do it next year, but that has been a challenge. Then, as we look ahead, normally from Thanksgiving to Christmas, we have our Wishing Well campaign at Wal-Mart, Meyer Dairy and The Corner Room, and that’s still up in the air. Wal-Mart corporately has told us that they can’t do it. Our two other locations said it was OK with them, if the boroughs allow us to do it. There really are so many question marks — just like there is for everyone else.”
With a major fundraising event canceled and future fundraising events in jeopardy, the Interfaith Human Services board turned to a previous fundraising event more suitable for this year’s restrictions, putting a larger emphasis on it than ever before.
“This auction was just a little thing last year, and it was like, hey, we can do this [this year],” says Knouse. “It’s all online. People can pay online. We’ll mail everything out. For larger items, we’ll set up pick-ups outside our door… That planning really started in May when we saw that, with our summer event, even if the moratorium on crowds went away, we wouldn’t have enough time to put it together.”
The Community Care Auction will be held online, at interfaithhumanservices.org/auctions/, Sept. 14–28. Area businesses and individuals have donated a variety of items for bidding.
“We’re hoping to offer 100 items,” says Knouse. “We’ll have gift certificates, and the rest of the items will generally fall under new merchandise, antiques and collectibles, and handcrafted items.”
Proceeds from the auction will benefit Interfaith Human Services’ primary programs, including its Financial Care, Free Furniture and Appliances and Emergency Needs Assistance services. The Free Furniture and Appliances service, which connects those in need with gently used home furnishings and appliances, is one that Knouse says has been particularly in demand since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“As other agencies and organizations have worked to get people out of group living situations, we’ve seen quite a number of more requests to set up new houses, as far as furniture and appliances go…,” he notes. “We didn’t really think about how many folks would be moving out of group living situations, so it was a bit of a surprise, the amount of furniture and appliance calls we’ve had.”
Some of the most requested items for the service include beds and refrigerators. In order to maintain social distancing and observe pandemic precautions, Interfaith Human Services asks donors providing such furniture and appliances to call to arrange for an outdoor pick-up.
“[The online auction] is us taking a new way,” Knouse says. “We have to imagine how we can fund ourselves in light of the pandemic restrictions. It’s us exploring disconnected fundraising, really… [so] that we continue to operate and make sure our programming continues as it has. Many agencies have worked through this; we’re going to be there for our financial care clients, our emergency financial assistance clients, our furniture folks. That’s what this auction is going to.”
“We have been here, and we’ll continue to be here,” he says, noting Interfaith Human Services’ “appreciation for the community that supports us.”
“There are a lot of folks hurting in a lot of ways they’ve never hurt before. We’re conscious of that, and it makes us appreciate, even more, if that’s possible, what folks are doing to support us and other nonprofits,” Knouse says.
The Interfaith Human Services Community Care online auction kicks off Sept. 14 at www.interfaithhumanservices.org/auctions/.