Jumbo Giving

The Tufts Community Appeal, which runs through December, is a way for faculty and staff to contribute to many worthy charities

After a 12-year-old boy spent months undergoing grueling treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma at Boston Children’s Hospital, his doctors referred him to the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. What, he was asked, would his fondest wish be? Thanks to the foundation, the sports-loving youngster toured Fenway Park before a Red Sox game and then threw out the first pitch with his idol David Ortiz serving as catcher. It was a moment neither he nor his family would forget.

Teenager Jessica Pierre joined her father in Somerville after a massive earthquake hit her native Haiti. With help from the Welcome Project, an organization that advocates for immigrants and offers English language education, among other services, she graduated from Somerville High School and is now attending Keene State College in New Hampshire.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation and the Welcome Project are two of the agencies supported by the Tufts Community Appeal, the university’s annual fundraising program that supports numerous charities and organizations. This year’s program runs through the end of December. Donations can be made through payroll deductions to one of the organizations the Tufts community supports, to a nonprofit of your choice or to financial aid at Tufts.

This year’s campaign slogan is “Helping to Make a Difference Together,” embodying the idea that employees on all three Tufts campuses have an opportunity to help others, says Barbara Rubel, director of the Office of Community Relations, which oversees the appeal.

Especially now, economic uncertainties “have made things challenging for many of our neighbors,” Rubel says. “Any amount community members can give is appreciated. Nothing is too small.” Rubel says last year employees pledged $160,473 and the goal is to increase participation.

Employees who participate in the appeal will be eligible for raffle drawings that will be held every one or two weeks. Prizes include $50 gift cards that can be used anywhere, as well as gift cards to Bed Bath and Beyond, Whole Foods, Barnes and Noble and Home Depot.

Showing You Care

Some of the charities operate under umbrella organizations that distribute funding to smaller groups. The Make-A-Wish Foundation, for example, is under the aegis of Community Health Charities of New England, which supports a range of other organizations, including the American Cancer Society and the American Diabetes Association.

The Welcome Project is funded by Community Works, a Boston-based organization that funds 33 agencies in Massachusetts focusing on disenfranchised populations, including the homeless and those without health care or in need of home-based services. “This group of organizations came together deliberately because we share a point of view,” says Community Works director Fran Froehlich. “We want to help people who largely can be seen as invisible to society and are really on the bottom.”

In addition, faculty and staff can donate directly to Earth Share of New England, Global Impact Charities, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and United Way of Central Massachusetts. Donations can also be made to Tufts Financial Aid and the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund, which supports programs in Tufts’ host communities.

In the past, the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund has purchased instruments for a Chinatown youth marching band, furniture for a home for disabled adults in Grafton, staples for a Medford food pantry and winter outerwear for a Somerville homeless shelter.  In order to be eligible for a grant, a community organization must involve Tufts volunteers in their work. "The Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund is a uniquely Tufts way to participate in the appeal,” says Susan Fuller-DeAmato, assistant director of Community Relations. “Contributions assist local nonprofit organizations, and have the added benefit of supporting active citizenship in the Tufts community as well.”

All Tufts employees receive a letter at work from President Monaco about the Community Appeal; the mailing includes a pledge form and describes giving options and how to contribute. Employees can choose payroll deduction for specific agencies or use a credit card if donating to Tufts Financial Aid or the Tufts Neighborhood Service Fund. You may also write a check for any agency or initiative you choose to support.

“This is a way for the Tufts community to make an impact and to show we care,” Rubel says.

For more information, go to the Tufts Community Appeal website.

Marjorie Howard can be reached at marjorie.howard@tufts.edu

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