Happy New Year to you and yours from Simple Needs GA (SNGA)!
Thanks to your kindness and generosity over the past year, we made good progress toward our mission of helping even more people in need in our community. We also laid the groundwork for a productive 2015.
Here are a few highlights:
EXPANDING OUR PROGRAMS
Over the past year, SNGA expanded its Comfort Kits project to add four new shelters—Family Promise of Cobb County, The Extension (men and women), the YWCA of Northwest Georgia and Zion Keepers—in addition to our longstanding relationship with MUST’s Elizabeth Inn.
Our Shoe Them Love program provided, via either $25 gift cards or through in-kind donations, enough pairs of new shoes for more than 275 very grateful kids!
We recognized even more children’s birthdays—50 in 2014—through our My Birthday Matters program. Many of these homeless or disadvantaged children would otherwise have received nothing on their birthday.
In addition to our volunteer days, over the past year SNGA also helped at least 50 families who reached out to us for assistance. These included a single mom with two kids coming out of homelessness; a single dad with three kids; families that had lost everything due to fires and floods; and a woman with five kids (two with special needs).
GROWING SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE
SNGA is still a small, locally focused organization, but our reach is growing thanks to our volunteers’ and donors’ generous support of us on social media sites. For example, our website simpleneedsga.org received 7,400 unique views in 2014. We have 614 ‘likes’ on our growing Facebook page and have just dipped our toes into the ‘Twitterverse’ waters with a new Twitter account: @simpleneedsga.
In 2014, we also created an attractive, easy-to-share brochure. It’s available in digital format at this link.
Lastly, board member Kasey Litt created our first informational program video, which you can watch here.
GROWING OUR FUNDRAISING
Late last year, we decided to apply for our first major grant in a request for $10K. We are still seeking matching funds, which will boost our odds of winning this grant significantly. All pledges due by late January. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also teamed with Kroger Community Rewards, GoodSearch and AmazonSmile to supplement our fundraising efforts. Individuals helped us as well. For example, an anonymous donor approached SNGA and offered to match the size of any donation (up to $2,500 total) during the month of March, which we dubbed “March Madness.”
On Georgia Gives Day on Nov. 13, we raised $2,780 toward our goal of $5,000, with a total of 27 donors contributing. Thank you so much!
KICKING BACK WITH FUN EVENTS
We had a nice turnout and a lot of fun at our Simply Bowling event on Sept. 28. (We’ll be holding two bowling events in 2015—stay tuned.)
On Oct. 18 of last year, we held our first Volunteer & Donor Appreciation Open House. We dined on some good food, gave tours of our space, met new friends and reminisced with old ones. Our “Gifts in Kind” award winner was Piedmont Graphics (owner of our warehouse space). “Volunteers of the Year” were Scott Denton (photography), Karen Hamilton, Sandy Dame and Darlene Andrews. Our invaluable “truckers” were Jay Schneider, Rick Perry and Yolanda Kingsberry (Yolanda recently joined our board). We also gave a special “thank you!” to Melanie Booker for being on our board since day 1.
In 2015, we plan to continue growing our programs and helping greater numbers of people in need. We would also love your help with our efforts to form specific committees in support of: My Birthday Matters, Shoe Them Love, Comfort Kits, public relations/community outreach, and special events.
GROWING OUR VOLUNTEER DAYS
Over the past year, we were thrilled at the strong attendance during our periodic volunteer days. On Hands on Atlanta Day on Oct. 18, for example, 65 volunteers—most of them from UCB and TSYS—helped out at our Marietta warehouse by assembling Comfort Kits, wrapping presents for My Birthday Matters and doing many other tasks. It was the most volunteers we have had at one time at our Marietta warehouse!
On March 15, a total of 45 people from all over metro Atlanta—including members of local high schools, MUST Ministries, Family Promise, JLL Atlanta and IBM—helped us pack 320 toiletries bags (“Comfort Kits”), assemble shelves, put together a birthday package for a homeless child, organize our My Birthday Matters room, take inventory and more. Then on March 19, approximately 100 volunteers from JLL Atlanta put together 300 duffel bags for us at JLL Atlanta’s office in Buckhead. They even drove the bags to our Marietta warehouse! As a corporation community donation, JLL Atlanta ordered and paid for $4,700 worth of supplies for SNGA’s Comfort Kits program. Largely as a result of this, we were able to expand that program and deliver full-sized toiletries to more than 300 more people living in four additional local shelters. Likewise, volunteers from Foresters, the not-for-profit fraternal benefit society, braved some seriously hot weather in August to put together nearly 150 birthday kits for My Birthday Matters at Six Flags Over Georgia.
Throughout 2014, we received donations and/or volunteer help from a wide variety of organizations, including UCB, TSYS, Wells Fargo, Foresters, EPIC Response, JLL Atlanta, Casa Montessori, First United Methodist Church in Marietta, Piedmont Graphics, IBM, Cakes by Avion, Kroger, and ushers from the Cobb Energy Center, to name just a few. TSYS chose SNGA as the beneficiary of its holiday campaign, collecting donations of items as well as many gift cards. Wells Fargo gave SNGA $1,000 through its Day of Giving program.
COLLABORATING WITH OTHER AGENCIES
At SNGA, we see our work as a collaborative, community-based effort, and so we work hard to help other agencies whenever possible. Over the past year, our donors helped us provide the Cobb/Douglas Community Services Board with all kinds of gently used household items, from bed and bath items to TVs and microwaves, for people coming out of homelessness. Our donors gave lightly used children’s books for distribution by MUST Ministries; provided pet food for a local teenager who has a mission of helping lower-income folks who own dogs and cats; and donated useful items for the Children’s Room at the YWCA of Northwest Georgia. We also collected coats and clothing for the YWCA as well as the Marietta city school district’s clothes closet.
Overall, we had a great response last year from our supporters, who generously provided in-kind donations of winter clothing, camping supplies, bicycles, household items and much more. (See this page for details on the in-kind donations we’ll be collecting in 2015.) By the way, our monthly donation drive is this Saturday, Jan 17, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Contact us for details and our address. We are currently in need of furniture (larger furniture should not be brought to our space; email us and we’ll coordinate pick up if needed and delivery).
Finally, here are a few quotes from people and organizations we helped over the past year:
“It is difficult to describe how much it means to a person with a mental illness, especially one who has not had his or her own place to live, or who has been completely homeless, to not only be offered a place to call home, but to also be given necessary household items that had been donated by complete strangers!” — Mary Robeck, Cobb/Douglas Community Service Board.
“My daughter said she is beyond excited about her gifts. I mean she looooves her gifts, especially the blanket. Thank you for this; I am so grateful.” — mother of a 9-year-old girl who had a great birthday with help from our My Birthday Matters program.
“It’s the small things sometimes that make a difference. Love and compassion can be shown in so many ways. I want to thank you.” — shelter resident who received a duffel bag of full-size toiletries via our Comfort Kits program.
THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT OF PEOPLE IN NEED!