By Jim Crees,
Published Nov. 11
Used with permission
BIG RAPIDS — Match Day is a big day in Mecosta County.
A busy day for some folks. A beneficial day for many organizations. A great day for the entire community.
TOSS: Abigail Harrower tosses a ball into one of the buckets in front of the Angels of Action booth at the Match Day 2015 event at the Holiday Inn on Tuesday. (Pioneer photo/Justin McKee)
As members of some of the 66 organizations and groups taking part in Match Day 2015 scrambled to get their last display items in place Tuesday morning, Mecosta County Community Foundation President Gary Trimarco grabbed a microphone and kicked off the annual event with words of encouragement.
“This is our sixth annual Match Day,” said Trimarco. “A lot of people have made a tremendous amount of effort to bring this day to where we are and make it a reality.
“This is the largest day of giving in Mecosta County.
“The biggest effort has been made by all those who are here as fundraisers. It is because of the fundraisers that we can make each and every dollar worth more than it would be as an individual donation.”
Trimarco was all smiles as he wandered the floor at the Holiday Inn Hotel and Conference Center shaking hands and sharing a few words with those hoping to boost their operational capabilities.
Looking over the often frantic scene, he was more than enthusiastic.
“This is going to be a good day,” he exclaimed. “We’re excited. We don’t need to set goals or be better than some year in the past. We look around and see people excited about doing good things for Mecosta County and that fires us up.
“We are all members of a small community – one of the poorest counties in Michigan. Yet, we have people willing to give with all their hearts. This is such a caring and giving community.
“It is amazing to see folks of every age pass through our doors on Match Day — the kids giving every penny they can.”
On the floor, fundraisers from Angels of Action to Big Brothers/Big Sisters, and from the Muskegon River Watershed Assembly to Manna Pantry, and from schools to animal shelters and many more were busy logging donations and adding up the figures.
All appreciated the atmosphere and enthusiasm throughout the room.
“This is really a great opportunity for the Special Olympics,” said Nicholas Boyd. “This is a good day to raise money for our cause. We do a lot of fundraising but this is one of the biggest one-day fundraising efforts we take part in.”
“We did very good last year, raising almost $3,000,” added Pat Rosales, also from the Special Olympics team. “We expect to do as well this year, and we’re already on our way!”
During a lunchtime visit, Big Rapids Middle School Student Council representative Savannah Seath stopped by the Special Olympics booth to turn over a $40 donation.
“This is fun, and we’re really happy to be able to give,” said Seath.
BRMS counselor Julie Jancek is proud of her kids.
“This is a great experience for kids,” she said. “It’s not only a good day to give, but our young people can see how the community in which they live cares about others.
“Our students had 11 checks for $40 each to distribute to funds they supported. They are having fun.”
Just after lunchtime, event organizing committee member Tim Zehr announced Match Day donations had reached $400,000.
The news fired up those in the conference center.
Members of the Remus Area Historical Society were hoping for a good outcome.
“We are expecting good things,” said Linda Howard, of the fundraising committee. “We are well on our way to our goal and expect to start work preserving the Old Stone Pavilion at School Section Lake in the spring.
“We hope to get a real boost today. We also expect to get some donations at the end of the year and through late-year grants.
“Last year’s Match Day really jumpstarted our effort and we expect good things this year as well.”
All through the afternoon, donors filed in — both in groups and on their own. School children and senior citizens alike turned over large and small donations to their favorite charity, cause or fund. Every penny helped.
By day’s end, folks in the conference room were tired, but happy.
And the final tally was announced.
With some donations still uncounted, with some pledges outstanding and with some paperwork still in the hopper, the 2015 Match Day campaign raised a total of nearly $775,000.
“This day exceeded my expectations,” said Trimarco with a huge smile. “We are going to be very, very close to $4 million raised over the past six years.
“It is stunning.
“People in this room really worked hard and we could yet exceed $800,000. We’ll wait and see.
“The folks here not only raised money, but they created awareness of their causes and have started building a list of donors and supporters for the future.
“The foundation is helping create a better future for the organizations and funds that so ably support the community.”
Jeffrey & Deborah Stauffer present the Noah Stauffer scholarship for $500 to Andrew Upham to study Mechanical Engineering at FSU.
Brenda Miller presented the Bob Miller scholarship for $1200 to Julianne Griffin of Reed City HS who is going to Baker College for a BS in Nursing.
Bob Stanton presenting the Scott D Anderson scholarship for $500 to Megan Wellman of M-S HS for $500 to attend FSU-GR for art studies.
The Mecosta County Community Foundation distributed checks Wednesday, February 3 for the matching funds to nonprofits and endowed funds that participated in Match Day 2015 in November. More than $900,000 was donated by community members. This year’s match was about 38¢ on the dollar for endowments and about 1¢ on the dollar for nonprofits.
The MCCF grant application deadline is quickly approaching. Grants are due to the foundation by April 1, 2016.
MCCF scholarship application deadline is March 1, 2016.
Please visit our grants and scholarships pages for available award criteria.