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Friday, May 6, 2016

Small donations, big help

Sunday, June 26, 2011

One of the most familiar fund-raisers for First Choice Pregnancy Center is the use of baby bottles to collect spare change. Donors fill the bottles and return them to the center, netting an average of $10 per bottle when filled.
(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons) [Order this photo]
In a time when many feel the effects of a constricted economy, non-profit organizations must be creative in generating funding for their operating budgets.

Known for the recognizable baby bottles which donors having been filling with spare change for almost 10 years, and which provide about 4 percent of their budget, First Choice Pregnancy Counseling continues to launch new initiatives to garner financial support.

Dollars for a day

A local ministry which provides practical help and support to those facing unplanned pregnancies, their latest project is the Sponsor-a-Day program. Each tax-deductible donation of $240 will fund a day of operations for the center. Donors have the option to contribute $20 monthly via electronic withdrawal from their checking account.

"Twenty dollars a month, that was something we could do, were happy to do," said Steven Flippo who, along with his wife Cecilia, is one of 15 calendar day sponsors. "It's not a big burden [financially], and it's an honor to get to do it."

Thomas hopes to fill the calendar within the next year.

Mike and Chastity Lovvorn are day sponsors, "We believe each baby is a gift from God," said Chastity in an email. "When I heard about the center and had the opportunity to learn more about it I knew in my heart I wanted to do something to help out.

"I am the result of an unplanned pregnancy 38 years ago. My mother was advised to have an abortion. Luckily, she chose life for me."

Good feeling

The couple sponsor three calendar days each year, "We decided to sponsor both of our children's birthdays to show how thankful we are for them," she shared. "I also couldn't help but think of the unborn baby we lost in August of 2000. So to honor that baby we chose to sponsor the date the baby was to be born."

The electronic transfer makes it easy for active families. "Since my husband and I have two very active boys and full-time jobs that involve quite a bit of traveling, we felt the Sponsor-a-Day program would be the most consistent way we could help."

Donors report a feeling of having made a valuable investment, "In January every year we get a letter telling us how many people have been supported and how many babies were given the chance to grow up and do something great. It's the best investment we could ever make," said Lovvorn.

"Another thing I think is neat, when Donna [Thomas] has someone coming in for counseling that day, she will send out a text message to say, 'Please be praying'" said Flippo. "It makes you feel like you are involved on a day-to-day basis."

Cleaning up

Each September in observance of the National Wash for Life Day, youth groups and civic clubs are invited to host car washes.

For the last two years, Living Stones Community Church has taken home the trophy for top fund-raising car wash by pre-selling tickets to their event. First United Methodist Church was last year's second-place winner.

In addition, the center just completed its annual yard sale. A 5K run with a start just before the city's Christmas parade registered 77 runners in 2010.

First Choice's biggest fundraiser is its annual Fish Fry and Auction. In its sixth year, the May event was attended by 695 adults and children and raised $42,000 for the non-profit.

Helpers needed

To further their support, the center is currently enrolling liaisons from churches, businesses and local civic organizations,

"We'd like to identify organizations who have a heart for this ministry, and develop a single point of contact," said Director Donna Thomas. "Community involvement is one of the primary prayers we have for the center's future, and having that person will be key in giving the entire community a sense of partnership with us."

"You may never know how much [sponsoring] that one day a year affects someone. I'm writing this now because, despite difficult circumstances, my mom chose life," said Lovvorn.

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