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Local non-profits credit supporters for being able to keep their doors open during the pandemic

Organizations say the community has stepped up during a time of need, with donations providing stability for their clients who need to stay on schedule.

TOLEDO, Ohio — In a time of instability, local non-profits are still helping those with disabilities, autism and individuals most in need. 

Following Giving Tuesday, they're thanking those who donated and have offered support. Giving Tuesday is a movement aimed at encouraging generosity and charity, held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. 

For these organizations, it's those supporters who have kept them from needing to shut their doors during the pandemic and allow them to continue to provide essential services, assistance and stability to those who need it most, during a very unstable time.

Shannon Bova, the vice president of donor relations at Sunshine Communities, says this year they decided to highlight Zach, who was born with Down syndrome.  

Sunshine Communities helps Zach and others with developmental disabilities expand skills and find jobs, helping them become involved in their communities and reach their full potential.

"We work for an incredible organization that is supporting those that are most in need. Those that have developmental disabilities. And so each year, we have a number of highlights and a number of amazing stories that we want to share with our supporters," said Bova. 

This non-profit and others like Bittersweet Farms are counting on those supporters to keep them running throughout the year. But with COVID-19 ongoing, both organizations say it was tough to ask for money on Giving Tuesday.

"People are struggling out there and we realize that, and it's for that reason that we are so, so, so grateful for the success of our Giving Tuesday and for those who have supported us throughout the year," said Julie Champa, the development director at Bittersweet Farms, a non-profit offering support for those with autism. 

Both non-profits saw nearly double the donation dollars this year over 2019.

"People came together and they supported us and in the terms of fundraising, we're just been really fortunate this year," said Bova. "I mean, people have really come together to support us and it's been great."

For Bittersweet Farms, the funds allow the organization to recruit and provide more staffing.

"To serve adults with autism on a day to day basis and know that you've got staff members that are truly committed to ensuring their health and safety and happiness means everything," said Champa. 

The generosity shown by supporters on Giving Tuesday and throughout this difficult year also means stability for Zach, who can continue working with an organization he considers family.

Both organizations are encouraging everyone to donate during this time of need. They say it doesn't matter how much a donation is, because every amount helps. And if you can't donate money, you can donate your time.