Gift of Giving: Make a difference by supporting community organizations

When the holiday season arrives, people become more giving of their time, energy and money.

Here are a few Blue Water area organizations to consider supporting this year:
Community Foundation of St. Clair County

The River Walk is seeing enhancements with help from the Community Foundation."The beauty of donating at the Community Foundation is that we can take any donor’s passion and connect them with causes that matter," says Jackie Hanton, vice president of St. Clair County Community Foundation.

Hanton says Community Foundation is the largest grant-making foundation in Michigan’s thumb region, and it manages multiple endowment funds benefiting every corner of St. Clair County.

The Blue Water River Walk is one of the foundation’s proud projects.

Nearly one-mile of shoreline was donated to the organization, and through public and private partnership investments, the River Walk has become a year-round spot for art, education, exercise, and more.

There are still phases of the project that need to be completed, but the community is already embracing the improved River Erin Ryan is moving her family back to St. Clair thanks to a Come Home grant.Walk.

Another project through Community Foundation is their Come Home Award Program which pays recent college graduates to move back to St. Clair County. Graduates must have a degree in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, or math) to be eligible.

"It [Community Foundation] is a resource for connecting people who care with causes that matter," Hanton says.
KIDS

Another area charity is Kids In Distress (KIDS) located at 1114 South Seventh St. in St. Clair.

KIDS provides free clothing and other age appropriate items to children who are underprivileged and displaced.

"We fill a big need," says Christie Burke, director of operations. Most of their assistance goes to people who get lost in between. They don't qualify for government assistance, but still can't afford everything they need.

KIDS works on a referral system, which usually comes come from a church, school, or counselor. If a family or person has trouble finding a referral, they can still contact KIDS to discuss other referral options.
Hunter Hospitality House

Another charitable organization in the Blue Water Area is Hunter Hospitality House.

"We provide a welcoming, relaxing home away from home," says Hunter Hospitality House Manager Garrett Willard.

Willard says the house fills a need people don’t realize exists until they are in a situation that requires their services.

For example, if a newborn requires an extended stay in the hospital, the parent or parents of the child canHunter House offers a home away from home during an emergency. request a space at Hunter House so out-of-pocket costs at a hotel don’t unnecessarily burden them.

Hunter House has two locations in the area, and they have hosted more than 1,300 guests since 2011.

Both locations are in Port Huron, each within minutes of a medical facility. One location is at 1010 Lincoln Ave. near McLaren Port Huron Hospital, and the second location is at 2509 10th St. near Lake Huron Medical Center.


A New Dawn
A New Dawn is a non-traditional shelter for families located in Marine City; it was started by Nancy and Steve Dumars.

Though the shelter isn’t a certified nonprofit, the Dumars bear the burden of the 800-square foot space by collecting donations and caring for those in need of shelter.

The Dumars use Facebook to keep in touch with the community by posting updates on donations received and needed.

Earlier this month they posted a call for Christmas decorations for the shelter; within a day, A New Dawn had a Christmas tree donated and decorations for the space.
Blue Water Community Food Depot

The Blue Water Community Food Depot, located at 2408 Tenth St. in Port Huron, counts on volunteers and donations to provide food four times a year to people in need.

"We started in 1982 as a charitable activity of the local St. Vincent DePaul Group," says volunteer coordinator Tom Daunt.

Daunt says the food depot acts as a bridge for when a person’s food stamps run out and they haven’t received their next allotment of assistance; he says the depot is able to acquire food from the Food Bank of Eastern Michigan (FBEM) in Flint at a reduced cost, and the depot runs on donations, as well.

The food depot serves roughly 9,000 people each year, three days a week, and the staff consists only of volunteers--nobody is paid, Daunt emphasized.

Daunt says the food depot is currently hosting its annual ornament purchasing fundraiser where participating businesses and organizations have paper ornaments for sale "Jerry Lewis-style”; and each year about $8,000 is raised through this fundraiser.
United Way of St. Clair County

The United Way of St. Clair County (UWSCC) is another place the community can give its attention as donors may choose specific areas of UWSCC they wish to impact, specific projects and funds they wish to support, or they may use United Way to support affiliated organizations.

To learn more on how you can donate to Community Foundation, visit www.stclairfoundation.org. To donate to KIDS, visit kidsindistressservices.org. To donate to Hunter Hospitality House, visit https://hunterhospitalityhouse.com. If you’d like to volunteer or donate to Blue Water Food Depot call, (810) 987-7886. To contact and stay updated on the needs of A New Dawn, visit facebook.com/Dawns.shelter. And to connect with the United Way of St. Clair County, visit http://www.uwstclair.org/.

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