National Infantry Foundation ranks No. 1 in donations for Georgia Gives

ajjohnson@ledger-enquirer.comNovember 16, 2013 

The Chattahoochee Valley, known for its charitable spirit, showcased its reputation this week, raising $285,000 for nonprofit organizations during the second annual Georgia Gives Day.

The amount of money raised in the Valley accounted for 20 percent of donations made statewide. Leading the way was the National Infantry Foundation, which ranked No. 1 in the state for donations. The organization raised $51,507 during the 24-hour "flash mob" of giving. Trees for Columbus ranked fourth in the state, raising $26,429, and the Columbus Museum ranked seventh at $17,393. The Historic Columbus Foundation ranked eighth at $16,835.

When it came to the number of donors, Calvary Christian School had the edge with 221 donors. The school ranked first in the Chatta

hoochee Valley and third statewide.

All donations were made Wednesday at www.GAgivesday.org.

Betsy Covington, president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Chattahoochee Valley, said it was an amazing day for the community, which will benefit from the services provided by the 83 local organizations that participated. The foundation leveraged local dollars by giving $38,500 in matching funds. Organizations had to compete for monetary prizes by raising as much money as possible, and it paid off.

"Once again we've shown that people here are amazingly generous," Covington said in a statement released by the foundation. "Donations like this add up quickly and help provide meals for the needy, shelter for homeless animals, free museum exhibitions and medical care for the uninsured."

Jane Bayer, the National Infantry Foundation's director of sales and donor relations, said a lot of generous people helped the museum win the top spot.

"We are obviously thrilled," she said. "We have great supporters and they are dedicated to the museum's mission of honoring soldiers, past, present and future. That's what we try to do every day at the infantry museum and our supporters just help us."

Bayer said the foundation conducted a coordinated campaign, which included email blasts and regular posts on Facebook and Twitter. She said some donors like to give end-of-year gifts, and the organization encouraged them to do so on Wednesday to leverage the dollars.

In addition to the amount raised, the foundation racked up $6,000 in local prizes and $2,500 from the state for raising the most money, Covington said.

Bayer said some of the donors were out-of-town guests who were in Columbus on Thursday for a soldier graduation. She said the money will be used to fund projects such as the traveling Vietnam Wall, which will come to Columbus in March.

"We're just grateful to all of the supporters who helped us," she said. "We've got some great people in the Chattahoochee Valley."

Calvary Christian ended the day with $10,353 when all the donations and prizes were calculated. Laurie Smith, director of development, said the school raised the money by engaging students and parents. Donuts were offered to students who donated, and parents updated via email and the school's Facebook page. Smith said the money would be used to help students who need tuition assistance.

"It was just a great day," she said, "We appreciate the foundation's generosity in bringing us all together to better the community."

Covington said this year's results show that Georgia Gives Day has great potential for the state and the Chattahoochee Valley.

"Last year, Minnesota's Giving Day generated more than $16 million in donations in 24 hours, and it was just their fourth year of the program," she said. "Each of our lives has been touched by a nonprofit, and Georgia has at least as much generous spirit as does Minnesota. It's going to be exciting to watch this program grow year to year."

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