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Extraordinary Give Has ECHOS as Its Newest Beneficiary

The eighth annual Extraordinary Give is coming up on Friday, Nov. 22, and this year’s charitable giving event has several new features.

Among them is the first participation by Elizabethtown Communty Housing & Outreach Services. Until recently, ECHOS was ineligible to participate because it had been operating under the auspices of Elizabethtown College.

“We were with the college for several years as we piloted this agency,” ECHOS Executive Director Deb Jones said, but that arrangement ended on June 30 of this year.

Jones said when ECHOS began on July 1, 2016, “It was me.” Now there are eight full-time staffers and seven part-timers.

“We know Elizabethtown is thriving, but we want to fortify the strengths of Elizabethtown through our agency,” Jones said.

ECHOS is best known as the operator of the Elizabethtown Winter Shelter, which keeps the homeless off the streets for the winter months. But Jones said there is much more to ECHOS than that.

“They think that we’re only the shelter, but we’re not,” Jones said. In addition to that, ECHOS provides short-term rental subsidies, crisis housing and permanent supportive housing. ECHOS gets referrals from medical service providers; for example, if a doctor learns that a patient is living in a home without heat, the doctor can refer the patient to ECHOS to get help with utilities.

As for the Winter Shelter, which opens Dec. 2, Jones emphasized that it is only for people with ties to the Elizabethtown and Donegal school districts. People from elsewhere are referred to shelters in Lancaster, Harrisburg and Lebanon. However, if someone shows up at the shelter just before its doors close at 8 p.m., the shelter will take that person in for one night only, then make arrangements for shelter elsewhere.

“The word is out there” that the Elizabethtown Winter Shelter will not take in people from outside the community, Jones said.

And Jones said there have been some great success stories. For example, she told of a woman who had hit rock bottom after making many unwise decisions. The woman left the shelter to spend 30 days in jail.

“We will be here to help you and walk along this journey,” Jones said the woman was told. And when she got out of jail, ECHOS helped her find and maintain housing.

“She got a full-time job,” Jones said, and gradually was entrusted with more responsibility in her work.

In another case, a family recovering from a house fire needed furniture. ECHOS helped the family get a new apartment.

“They knew that they would be able to sleep in a bed that night,” Jones said.

But ECHOS does not get all the money it needs from grants and needs community support. That’s where the Extraordinary Give comes in.

Seema Tailor is running ECHOS’ efforts with the Extraordinary Give.

“It’s a great visibility booster,” Tailor said.

ECHOS will be participating in an Elizabethtown event for the Extraordinary Give, which runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22, in the gym at Mount Calvary Christian School, 629 Holly St., Elizabethtown. More than 10 nonprofits are to have leaders and volunteers present for the free event.

On that day, from midnight to 11:59 p.m., individuals can visit ExtraGive.org, choose from more than 500 local nonprofit organizations, and make a secure online donation and have their gift stretched by more than $500,000 in stretch pool and prizes thanks to the Community Foundation and presenting sponsors Rodgers & Associates, High Foundation, and additional corporate sponsors.

The 2018 Extraordinary Give was a record-breaking day in generating $10.2 million from more than 23,500 donors to support 493 nonprofit organizations in a single day.

New this year is a reduction in the minimum gift. Previously is was $25; now the minimum to participate is $10.

The Extraordinary Give is a unique opportunity for individuals to leverage their social media networks in support of a nonprofit they care about. Becoming a “Fundraising Champion” allows people to activate their personal networks to generate giving for the causes they care about.

Data show that organizations that encourage Fundraising Champions generate more support than those that do not. People can become an ExtraGive Fundraising Champion by visiting ExtraGive. org, finding their favorite organization, and choosing the button that says “Fundraise.”

Again this year, dozens of individuals across Lancaster County will be part of spreading the word about Lancaster County’s Largest Day of Giving. From Akron to Quarryville and Marietta to New Holland, people across our community will have the chance to promote the Extraordinary Give from the comfort of their own vehicle.

For more details about the day, and a list of participating nonprofits, can be seen online at ExtraGive.org.

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