by Moira Cullings
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Parishioners at Sacred Heart Church in Leavenworth are eager to attend Mass as a community.
But several are physically unable to do so due to the church’s accessibility issues.
“In order to get into the nave of the church, you have to go [up] stairs,” said Chelsie Murphree, business manager at Sacred Heart-St. Casimir Parish.
“Our population is very elderly,” she continued. “We’ve actually lost parishioners over the last couple years who’ve gone to other parishes because there’s no stairs [there]. They can walk right in and out.”
Those who have remained watch Mass on a livestream video in the church hall and have Communion brought to them.
Sacred Heart wants to bring all of its parishioners home.
That’s why the parish is participating in GivingTuesday on Nov. 28.
The annual movement is a way for organizations across the globe to raise funds for a variety of causes.
Sacred Heart hopes to raise $50,000 so it can add a two-person elevator lift in the church hall and a chair rail up the hall steps. It will also fix its outdoor ramp.
“The main focus is to get more people in the door of the church,” said Murphree. “We hope this will bring [everyone] back.”
Jane Schmitt, director of development for the Catholic Foundation of Northeast Kansas (CFNEK), said GivingTuesday attracts a wide range of supporters, including young adults.
“Started in 2012,” said Schmitt, “GivingTuesday has become a global day dedicated to generosity fueled by the power of social media, collaboration and a lot of publicity.
“GivingTuesday also kicks off the charitable season when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.”
Held the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, donors have the opportunity put their gratitude into action by giving back to causes they care about from the comfort of their own homes.
Last year, GivingTuesday generated $3.1 billion for nonprofits, said Schmitt, with 37 million people making a donation to the campaign of their choice, and 28% of the contributions coming from mobile devices.
“Faith-based nonprofits now receive the largest percentage of GivingTuesday online donations,” Schmitt added.
One participant with notable success has been Holy Trinity School in Paola.
In the past, the school was able to launch a new reading program because of GivingTuesday donations. Last year, it raked in more than $15,000 for its STEM program.
“Pretty good for a little bitty school,” said principal Michelle Gavin.
This year, Holy Trinity hopes to raise $20,000 for a new math program.
“We have different math programs in different grades,” said Gavin, “so we’re wanting to get a consistent program across the grades.”
The school’s current math materials are outdated, making them unavailable for replacement.
Gavin said a day like GivingTuesday is essential for a small school like Holy Trinity.
“It has made a big difference in our fundraising,” said Gavin. “To have the opportunity to put out to the community some of our needs and have the community respond very generously has made a huge difference.”
Gavin hopes this year will be no different.
“Things are tight like they are everywhere,” she said. “Our budget is always tight, and other expenses come up unexpectedly.
“And so, to be able to focus this one campaign on being able to update our math program would make a huge difference to the students.”
Schmitt said donations that go toward archdiocesan campaigns ensure the Catholic community in northeast Kansas continues to flourish for current and future generations.
“Our goal is to unite the Catholic community in support of our parishes, schools and ministries,” she said. “We hope that 2023 will be our most successful GivingTuesday yet.”
How to give
The GivingTuesday donation platform opens on the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, and closes at the end of the business day on Dec. 4.
Users can access the giving platform from the homepage of CFNEK’s website at: cfnek.org.
Donors will have the option of giving by credit card on the website; through mobile giving with text to give; or by scanning a QR code for direct access to a crowdfunding page.
Many parishes, schools and other ministries accept walk-in donations for those who prefer to donate by cash or check.