#PassTheHat Fundraiser Helps Hesed House continue life-changing work
Nothing stops Hesed House's commitment to ending homelessness one person, one family at a time. The COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to the Aurora-based organization, but through ingenuity, perseverance and help from generous community members and businesses, Hesed House continues to provide vital shelter, clothing, food and job search training to hundreds of people each year.
Most recently, Hesed House launched the #PassTheHat fundraiser, a virtual giving campaign that helped raise funds to support Hesed House's essential services such as their on-site Comprehensive Resource Center and case management.
#PassTheHat replaced Hesed House's biggest fundraiser of the year, its annual Derby Party, which was canceled last May due to the pandemic. #PassTheHat engaged the same attendees and sponsors, including presenting sponsor Gerald Cares and Gerald Subaru of North Aurora and Naperville, but gave them a different way to show their support. This year, Hesed House supporters made short videos thanking the organization for their work and then "passed the hat" to encourage others to make a video and donate. Fundraisers also placed bright red signs in their yards to show support for Hesed House.
"It's one thing to celebrate together at an exciting event and we look forward to those moments again in the future. However, in these times when support might be less visible, to know that organizations like Gerald and the community are still by our side, lets us move forward with hope as we adjust to this changing landscape," said Lauren Jernigan, division director of development for Hesed House.
Doug Gerald, owner of Gerald Auto Group, and Gerald Cares have been instrumental in helping Hesed House pivot to serve their community differently during this uncertain time. Gerald Cares and Hesed House have partnered every step of the way -- from first needing to answer the question, "how can you shelter in place when you have no place to shelter," to establishing new and even more stringent cleaning protocols to helping bring staff back to work safely through a donation of several hundred face shields -- to ensure that Hesed House safely continues serving the homeless community. Just this week, they gave blankets to help Hesed's guests stay warm in the winter months.
"The pandemic presents a lot of challenges to fundraising and to be able to support Hesed House during a time when fundraising is nearly impossible is extremely important," said Doug Gerald. "Demand for Hesed House has grown over the last several months and we're happy to support an organization that is successful and sustainable and does good for the community."
Due to the pandemic, Hesed House's services are in greater demand than ever before. To meet the growing need, Hesed House is turning its warehouse into a third shelter space that will operate 365 days a year. While construction expenses were covered, operating a third shelter will be an entirely new expense. Fundraisers like #PassTheHat and generous donations from local businesses are integral to helping Hesed House meet increased staffing needs and community demand as the pandemic continues.
"So much of our environment and how we work at Hesed House has changed since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In spite of everything, two things that have never wavered have been our focus on serving our guests with dignity and hope and the support of the Gerald Auto Group," said Joe Jackson of Hesed House. "The constant support from Gerald during this time has provided critically vital goods and services for our most vulnerable neighbors and helped maintain stability during an otherwise very uncertain time."
To learn more about Hesed House, visit https://www.hesedhouse.org.