In 2020, many local organizations found new ways to make up money lost because of the COVID-19 pandemic. One popular way was drive-thru fundraisers.
Several organizers say despite this being a difficult year, they were able to find ways to raise money. Some say the strength of the Erie community was evident this year.
In 2020, many local annual festivals and fundraisers became drive-thru or virtual events, and some new fundraisers were created. One fair food festival this summer raised over $10,000 for the ANNA Shelter.
“The first day we did over 500 cars, which to me is such a huge testament to hour our community supports the shelter. It was a great thing for the shelter and, like I said, it was kind of a good boost to see that many people, people driving through with their dogs they adopted.” said Ruth Thompson.
Many other local annual festivals, including the Italian and Greek Festivals raised money for local churches with drive-thru events. Some organizers say they were resilient in 2020 and the community continued to show their support.
“That’s what nice about Erie, you know, we’ve done this 32 years. No matter what, people show up.” said Mike Geanous, Co-Chairman of the Greek Festival.
“We didn’t quit and we stayed intact and we’ll prepare for next year.” said Ron DiVecchio, Chairman of St. Paul’s Italian Fest.
The Erie Community Foundation’s Erie Gives Day raised more money than ever this year for local non-profits.
“We’re stunned by the results. It’s increased every year, but the increase this year was very dramatic and well over a million dollars extra.” said Mike Batchelor, President of the Erie Community Foundation.
Batchelor says the final total was actually $6 million. He says many people in the community have different perspectives after surviving 2020.
“You can look at it both ways. This has been a horrible year on the one hand, but there’s so many bright spots that that’s what we like to emphasize.” Batchelor said.
Some organizers say they hope to return to their fundraisers as they have been in the past. However, they say this year has shown them alternative ways to raise money and engage the community.