The final weeks of Virginia Tech’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) fall during the holiday season. During this time, it is crucial for charities like the United Way of the New River Valley, Feeding America Southwest Virginia, and the Virginia Tech Rescue Squad to receive donations to meet the rising demand for their services. All contributions are crucial for charities to continue supplying much-needed services to communities.

For those in need at this time of year, whether to have a full table for Thanksgiving or a warm place to sleep creates difficult decisions.

“Our clients are always making tough choices, but with the change of weather at this time of year, their tough choice becomes whether to pay for food or the heating bill,” said Anna Goltz, annual fund and corporate relations officer for Feeding America Southwest Virginia (FASWVA).

The primary goal of FASWVA is to collect large quantities of food for the hungry. As a result of generous contributions to the food bank, a donation as small as $5 can help provide 30 meals for those in need. Donations also help fuel the distribution network so food gets to where it needs to be quickly and efficiently. During the holiday season, the charity predominantly focuses on its mobile food pantry and making special distributions to ensure that the food reaches as many people as possible before the holidays.

“We believe it’s really important to have a full and gracious table at the holidays,” explained Goltz. “Donations at this time of year not only allow us to reach people around the holidays so they can have a full table, but they allow us to keep the pantry full all year long.”

Another charity working around the clock to accommodate its clients at this busy time of year is the United Way of the New River Valley.

“Our phones are ringing off the hook at this time of year as you can imagine,” said Kymn Davidson-Hamley, executive director for the United Way of the New River Valley. “It gets colder, and people just need more in the cold. The demand for things like blankets, space heaters, and home repairs is much higher.”

The charity is currently busy working on its holiday meal program; its toy drive called “Toys from the Heart”; and its “Elves United” holiday program, through which people can volunteer to adopt a family going through a catastrophic situation for Christmas.

A small donation to the United Way can help fund some of these holiday programs, but it can also provide other services, such as a medical ride or a hot meal. Or it could combine with other donations to help provide parenting education.

“No matter the size of the donation, they are powerful by themselves, and they are powerful together,” said Davidson-Hamley.

The Virginia Tech Rescue Squad (VTRS) also has higher demand for its services in the final months of the year and relies on the CVC to help purchase medical equipment. Even a $5 donation can contribute to life-saving supplies that go on the backs of its ambulances.

“Weather has a huge effect on the amount of calls we get, whether it be extreme hot or extreme cold. The risk of hypothermia and other life-threatening conditions goes up during this time, so the demand for medical supplies increases,” said Michael Geary, chief of VTRS.

According to Geary, not only do donations help pay for the rising need for medical supplies, but with more dangerous road conditions during cold weather months, they help pay for the maintenance that the VTRS trucks need in order to continue their services. Donations from the CVC also help pay for additional training for VTRS members.

These charities are only a few of the roughly 1,000 that employees can choose to support through the CVC. There is a cause that everyone can find that is close to their heart this holiday season, and even small donations can make a huge difference for charities and the people they help.

This year’s campaign will run until Dec. 14, so there is still time left to give. Employees can donate to the CVC through an online payroll deduction, choosing either a one-time deduction or a 24-pay-period deduction. Donations can be made through the CVC website. Cash and checks are also acceptable, and pledge cards are available for those who do not have online access.

The university’s annual campaign is administered by the Division of Human Resources and led by a steering team made up of representatives from across the university. More information about the campaign can be found on the CVC website.

Written by Katie Magnant, Class of 2019