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The Power of Small Contributions

Any donation will make a difference for Milwaukee organizations

Nov. 22, 2011
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Think that a small donation can't make a difference? Think again. Even if you only have $20 to spare (about a latte a day for one week), you can help feed the hungry, support women who are fleeing domestic violence or provide clothes and diapers for kids in need.

The Shepherd asked local organizations how they would put $20 to good use. Here's what they said:

AIDS Resource Center of Wisconsin (ARCW)

ARCW, which provides comprehensive health care and social services to people living with HIV/AIDS, is hosting two holiday dinners—one for Thanksgiving, the other for Christmas—for clients who access the organization's food pantry. Dan Mueller, ARCW's chief development officer, said $20 would pay for almost three holiday dinners with all of the trimmings. (414-273-1991 or www.arcw.org)

ArtWorks for Milwaukee

This organization utilizes art to teach high-school students the soft skills they'll need to become successful in the workplace—and also to develop their creative talents. Meghan Koven, ArtWorks' executive director, said $20 would buy a basic art supply kit or a flash drive so that students can save their digital artwork. (414-708-9996 or www.artworksformilwaukee.org)

Daystar Inc.

Daystar is the only transitional shelter in the area for women who don't have children and are fleeing domestic violence. Executive Director Colleen Carpenter said $20 could pay for a weekly bus pass (or 11 bus tickets) "to help empower someone who wants to go to school or job training." It could also purchase art therapy supplies for a few months or supplement donated food supplies. (414-385-0334 or www.daystarinc.org)

Dryhootch of America Inc.

This peer-support organization for veterans could use $20 to purchase grocery, gas or gift cards for vets' necessities or to buy clothes or toiletries, said Dryhootch's Bob Curry. (414-763-2785 or www.dryhootch.org)

The Guest House

This homeless shelter for men would use $20 to purchase bus tickets, basic hygiene products or holiday gifts for residents, such as wallets, slippers or cologne. "At the holidays, everyone should have something special," said Renee Pasciak, communications and events manager. (414-345-3240 or www.guesthouseofmilwaukee.org)

Hunger Task Force

"We would use $20 to purchase a holiday ham or turkey for a local family," said Dana Hartenstein, spokeswoman for the Hunger Task Force, Milwaukee's free and local food bank. (414-777-0483 or www.hungertaskforce.org)

Kyle's Korner

Children and teens who have lost loved ones find ways to grieve and heal at Kyle's Korner. Linda Linscott, director of programs and services, said $20 could purchase snacks and juice for the kids or art supplies—Play-Doh, paint and paint brushes are especially in demand. Halloween costumes and "dress-up" clothes are also welcome donations. (414-777-1585 or www.kyleskorner.org)

Literacy Services of Wisconsin

Jenny O'Brien, finance director, said $20 could purchase multiple pairs of reading glasses for Literacy Services of Wisconsin's adult students. Bus tickets are always needed as well. (414-344-5878 or www.literacyservices.org)

Lutheran Social Services' Refugee and Immigrant Services

Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan has helped to settle and transition immigrants and refugees from Afghanistan, Bosnia, Liberia, Somalia and Burma. According to Mary Flynn, program supervisor, refugees receive a flat amount of funds for 90 days, "and then they're on their own." Flynn said $20 could help immigrants and refugees pay for the little extras they need to succeed. Those extras include bus tickets, fees for school field trips, English as a second language workbooks, cleaning supplies, school supplies, children's books and co-pays for medical appointments. (414-325-3117 or www.lsswis.org)

Meta House

Meta House provides residential and outpatient treatment for women who are overcoming drug or alcohol addiction and rebuilding their lives and families. According to Wendy Cozzens, director of development, a $20 donation could provide items for women in treatment (and their children), such as a pillowcase, towel and washcloth; personal care items; or diapers and baby wipes. (414-962-1200 or www.metahouse.org)

Milwaukee LGBT Community Center

"People think that small donations don't do much," said Patrick Price, the center's director of philanthropy. "Yet small donations are the bulk of what we get from good-hearted people who don't have a lot of money. And when you add them up, they really do have an impact." Price said $20 could pay for gift cards used as incentives for low-income folks hesitant to get breast health checkups or HIV testing. It could also pay for supplies and snacks for the youths who participate in the center's Project Q. (414-271-2656 or www.mkelgbt.org)


Pathfinders is a shelter for runaway, "throwaway" and homeless youth and also provides counseling, case management and support services. Pathfinders would welcome a $20 donation, which would provide one month of personal hygiene supplies for an individual living at the shelter. (414-964-2565 or www.pathfindersmke.org)

The Salvation Army of Milwaukee County

The local branch of the Salvation Army operates a 120-bed emergency lodge for men, women and children. It's full to capacity at all times, said spokeswoman Faithe Colas. A $20 contribution to the emergency lodge would provide assistance for an individual who needs to fill a prescription; weekly transportation for a job seeker; toiletries for a family of four for a week; or a week's worth of diapers. In addition, the Salvation Army is happy to accept donations of any amount via its Red Kettle Christmas Campaign; 84 cents of every dollar donated supports a Salvation Army program or service. (414-302-4300 or www.SAmilwaukee.org)

Sojourner Family Peace Center

The Sojourner Family Peace Center offers shelter and help to women and their families who are leaving a violent home. "We can make $20 go pretty far," said Angela Mancuso, co-executive director. That amount would pay for cab fare to bring a family to an emergency shelter, buy a child's winter coat or two bags of diapers, or feed a woman and her children for one day in a shelter. (414-276-1911 or www.familypeacecenter.org)

St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Card

"There's so much we could do with $20," said Sister Edna Lonergan, the center's president. "It's endless." Topping Sister Edna's list is giving someone a bath—a full bath, with some time in the whirlpool, plus grooming. The money could also purchase diapers for adults or children who attend the center. It could pay for children's swimming lessons or materials for ceramics, jewelry or art classes. (414-977-5000 or www.stanncenter.org)

St. Benedict the Moor

This parish, clinic, jail ministry and community meal site, affectionately known as "St. Ben's," can stretch $20 pretty far, said Brother Dave Schwab. At $2 per meal, the money could feed 10 hungry people. Brother Dave said the ministry does a lot of shopping at dollar stores, so $20 could purchase 20 bottles of hand sanitizer (diners use it before every meal) or personal care products such as toothpaste, soap, shampoo or razors. Brother Dave said gloves are very much in demand at this time of year, so at least a few could be purchased with a $20 donation. The money could also cover 11 bus tickets. (414-271-0135 or www.stbensmilwaukee.org)

Wisconsin Humane Society

Angela Speed, director of development and community relations, said $20 could vaccinate three dogs or three cats at the Wisconsin Humane Society. Or that money could provide quality collars for three dogs in adoption. Or it could provide a week's worth of food for six baby ducklings at the society's wildlife rehab center. (414-264-6257 or www.wihumane.org)


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