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Area nonprofits get creative after fundraisers are cancelled due to COVID-19

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ROCKFORD (WREX) — In a normal year, Remedies Renewing Lives would have a summer golf outing and a fall gala to raise crucial funds.

"Between the two events we're usually talking some here between $130,000," says CEO Gary Halbach.

But COVID-19 has forced the cancellation of both events that typically bring in more than $100,000. Those dollars are keys to the organization securing more federal and state funding.

"Because most of these funds that we get we have to come up with a 25% match," says Halbach. "The reality is if we raise $100,000 in fundraising it's more like $400,000. Without the match we can't get state and federal dollars."

So this year, Remedies decided to turn to virtual fundraising. The campaign officially kicks off on August 3rd, but people don't have to wait until then to either donate online or call the center to make a donation.

"We've actually had a couple calls today of people donating," says Halbach.

For the United Way of Rock River Valley, this year is a major milestone as it prepared to celebrate its 100th year with a major gala in April. When it was announced the gala was cancelled, Rockford restaurateur Paul Sletten came up with an idea.

"He was going to be a guest at the gala and he said restaurants are really struggling, as we know they've been hit hard," says United Way of Rock River Valley Marketing and Communications Director Cassi Steurer. "If you'd like to do the gala and re-imagine it, they would like to do it."

Now the "(RE)United" event will be spread out across 11 venues each with 50 or fewer attendees.

"We can still gather 500 people, but not at the same place," says Steurer.

The August 15th event will be a win-win, not only helping the United Way but restaurants who've had a difficult season amid COVID-19.

"We're really excited about it because we can be together, but safely," says Steurer. "Help out the restaurants too."

Tickets for the event are still available and can be purchased here.

Mary Sugden

Mary Sugden is the Investigative Reporter at WREX. She joined the team in December 2014 as the evening producer. In 2015 she made the move to evening reporter before joining the 13 Investigates team in May of 2018.

She grew up in Woodstock, Illinois and graduated from Woodstock High School in 2009. Mary graduated with a degree in Journalism and Marketing from Loyola University Chicago in 2013.

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