BY REBECCA HOEFFNER, firstname.lastname@example.org
With a bright history of giving more than $820,000 throughout its short lifespan, the annual Shine Your Light holiday fundraising campaign begins today.
The Salvation Army of Tyler, the East Texas Food Bank, People Attempting to Help (PATH), First Tee of Greater Tyler, the Literacy Council of Tyler, and Boys & Girls Club of East Texas are this year’s nonprofits selected by a committee to receive gifts raised from the community.
“This year’s theme is ‘Investing in the future.’ … This is not the newspaper’s deal, this is the community’s deal,” said Nelson Clyde, publisher of the Tyler Morning Telegraph. “The people on this committee are really plugged in to this community.”
Each of the agencies will be highlighted in the days leading up to Christmas, but residents can give through the end of the year.
“People often say, ‘I decided to give again because of something in the stories,’” Clyde said.
This year’s matching donors are giving a total of $75,000. The donors are the Niblack Charitable Fund, Terry and Dennis Darryl, Mayor Barbara and Billy Bass, Herb and Melvina Buie, Harold and Rosemary Beaird, Citizen’s 1st Bank, Southside Bank, the Clements Family Foundation, the Tyler Morning Telegraph and an anonymous donor.
“Each year, I have been blessed by the outpouring of support for Shine Your Light,” Mayor Barbara Bass said. “And, I am blessed just knowing that we can make a huge difference when we join together to help the neediest in our community.”
The campaign began in 2008 with a total raised of $114,642.69, divided evenly between each agency. The amount has grown over the years, with combined total of $822,688.02 so far.
“In the fall of 2008, the economy crashed, and people were scared to death,” Clyde said. “Agencies were wondering what would happen.”
So the Shine Your Light campaign was born. The first year’s recipients were the East Texas Food Bank, The Salvation Army, PATH and the East Texas Rescue Mission of Tyler.
In 2009 and 2010, Shine Your Light again focused on helping the agencies that meet basic human needs.
“These were the frontline providers in meeting human needs, the bellwether agencies of the community,” Clyde said.
The 2009 organizations were the Bethesda Health Clinic, the East Texas Food Bank, Meals On Wheels, St. Paul Children’s Foundation and The King’s Store house. The 2010 organizations were the East Texas Crisis Center, the East Texas Food Bank, PATH, The Salvation Army and Meals On Wheels.
“In 2011, the economy appeared to be improving,” Clyde said. “That year’s focus was ‘Let’s get people back to work,’” Clyde said.
The recipients of 2011 were Christian Men’s Job Corps and Christian Women’s Job Corps, as well as the Children’s Advocacy Center of Smith County, Court Appointed Special Advocates, the East Texas Food Bank, The Salvation Army, PATH, and Meals On Wheels.
In 2012, as well as once again assisting core agencies, the Shine Your Light committee decided to honor The Hospice of East Texas for their 30th anniversary and help a new agency, the Samaritan Counseling Center of Tyler. The other agencies selected that year were Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County, the Bethesda Health Clinic, the East Texas Food Bank, The Salvation Army, PATH, Meals On Wheels and the East Texas Crisis Center.
“My wife and I have a heart for helping good organizations that are helping people,” said Herb Buie, one of the matching donors. “We think it’s a really good thing to support these organizations that are helping those who truly can’t afford to help themselves. We believe strongly in giving back to the community.”
To donate to Shine Your Light, visit www.tylerpaper.com or ETCF.org to pay with a credit card, or mail a check payable to Shine Your Light c/o East Texas Communities Foundation, 315 N. Broadway Ave., Suite 210, Tyler, Texas, 75702.