GREAT FALLS — Scores of families affected by COVID-19 received some financial assistance courtesy of United Way of Cascade County just before Thanksgiving. Now the non-profit organization is working to raise even more money to assist families before Christmas.
A private foundation donated $50,000 in matching funds for the initial "Essential Funds for Essential Needs" fundraiser several weeks ago. United Way marketing director Kim Skornogoski says the foundation is presenting the same offer for this second push.
“Essentially, we did a call out to the community, and in particular, reached out to local non-profits as well to nominate people, and we had more than 400 people apply for these funds,” Skornogoski said. “So more than 400 families that were impacted by COVID-19 and the economic slowdown applied for this first $50,000. Well, this family foundation has offered up to another $50,000 if we can get local matching funds, and so far we’ve been able to get around $11,000 of that, so we’re doing a big Giving Tuesday push, hoping to get that full $50,000 match. If we’re able to do that, we’d be able to help another 200 local families.”
The effort is also not limited to just Giving Tuesday. Kim says that United Way is hoping to have all donations received, assigned, and sent out before Christmas. While the organization will always accept donations for families in need, they say that they need to receive those donations in the next two weeks in order to get them out by December 25.
While Kim says that United Way would ideally be able to help every family that has been affected by COVID-19, they’re currently not accepting any more applications. That’s because they’ve already received applications from and screened 400 families. While the nonprofit knows that there are many more families in our area that need help, whether someone is out of work, has had to take reduced hours to help a family member that’s had to quarantine, or piled up medical bills themselves, they’ve capped the current family pool for now to ensure that they can get assistance to the families that have already been accepted into the program.
“With a lot of government programs, it’s tied to your poverty level or losing a job, but a lot of what we’re seeing in Cascade County is that people still have a job, but their hours are cut or maybe they got COVID or they were quarantined or unable to work from home,” Skornogoski explained. “So, they’re seeing a reduction in hours or a reduction in business if they’re self-employed. Every dollar given is matched by this foundation, and beyond that, there’s no administrative costs or fees.”
If you would like to donate money to the Essential Funds for Essential Needs Program for families impacted by COVID-19 in Cascade County, there are two ways to do that. Either mail your donation to United Way at PO Box 1343, Great Falls, Montana, 59403, or go to UWCCMT.org and click on the red donate button in the top right corner.
Anyone who wants to donate to the Essential Needs For Essential Needs program can go to www.uwccmt.org, or can send donations to United Way at P.O. Box 1343, Great Falls, 59403.