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“Every day in December felt like Christmas Day,” said Tammy Carey, Executive Director of the Community Foundation for Oceana County, “except the presents put under the tree were for our community.”

Carey reports that a trio of foundation-led, holiday fundraising initiatives either exceeded their goals or easily surpassed last year’s results.

First, generous contributors exceeded the goal of matching the $25,000 challenge grant to Oceana CAN! (College Access Network) that was pledged by the highly-respected Kresge Foundation, a private, national charitable foundation that wants to influence “the life trajectories of vulnerable people.”

“That’s our goal here in Oceana, too,” said Alyssa Merten, who coordinates the program, “and we’re so appreciative to have exceeded the match, raising $27,207 from supporters”.  Merten explained that the goal of Oceana CAN! is to prepare all students to be college and career ready – to have the mindset and resources to pursue and complete further education after high school.  “This means certificate programs, trade schools, community or four-year college degrees. There are many ways to continue one’s education after graduating from 12th grade and achieve the career of your dreams.” Next up for this impactful initiative is the College & Career Fair for all high school juniors on February 21st.

Second, an anonymous donor’s promise to match contributions to the Foundation’s Community Investment Fund or Administrative Fund up to $25,000 was also exceeded.  “We put out the word a couple weeks before the end of the year that we had not quite reached the goal and were $6,000 short. The response was immediate and humbling. This community is so giving and in the end a total of $43,340 was raised. These gifts open more doors to serve community needs. We are so grateful,” said Carey.

The Community Investment Fund enables the Foundation to channel help to unmet needs that suddenly arise.  And the Administrative fund makes it possible for the Foundation to help lead several important local initiatives like the Oceana CAN!, an employer-led workforce support program, and the Read Early, Read Often early literacy program.

“We’ve made it a goal to bolster both of these funds to create more flexible resources to help address not only emerging needs but gaps in funding to strengthen our nonprofit community serving our citizens here” explained Carey.

Third, 16 wishes made by 19 Oceana nonprofits in 2016 were fulfilled by individuals and organizations this year. “This is more than triple the number of wishes that were met in 2015,” said Carey.  The donated funds pay for near-term projects and purchases that are posted in the CFOC’s Website after the foundation invites the nonprofits to indicate their “wish list” needs.

“One wonderful area resident recently told me she uses this as the basis for her Christmas shopping list,” added Carey.  “Another wish grantor stepped forward to fund Oceana CAN’s “Feet on Campus” initiative through which groups of Oceana high school students will visit several area college campuses in 2017.” The wish lists grabbed the attention of multiple donors and groups including the committee advising the Little Point Sable Arts for Oceana County Fund. They selected four wishes including books for a lunch buddy program, Lego sets for a Literacy Club, and scholarships for Oceana Jr. Strings students.

The Foundation will soon report on its overall activities during 2016, and its 2017 goal to “grow” even more “philanthropists.”

“Every community, but especially one like ours – a small rural community with an economy based on agriculture and tourism – faces its share of challenges,” Carey stressed.  “We’re off the radar of most big individual, corporate and charitable philanthropists.  We depend more on local people and organizations having the mindset to step forward with their large and small contributions to do good here in some way,” she added.  “This includes making specific contributions like year-end gifts, setting up named funds that start making contributions right away, or including the community foundation in one’s estate planning. When I reflect on the level of support we received in 2016, it makes me even more excited to see what 2017 will bring and how much more we can do together to ensure that everyone has access to resources to thrive.”

For more information, call Ms. Carey at 231.861.8335 or follow the Foundation on facebook.