Philanthropy might be a growing concept to the town of Liberty Hill, in east Williamson County, but generosity isn’t. The people of Liberty Hill have a history of rallying around their neighbors in need or stepping up to serve when municipal budgets fell short. So when the local newspaper decided to run an online giving day last year with a goal of $40,000, they wondered how people would respond.
Katie Amsler of the newspaper Liberty Hill Independent, which started and operates the Day of Giving event along with the City of Liberty Hill, said the community rose to the occasion. “I think people started to see that we could reach the goal if everybody gave a little more,” she said.
This year, they’ve raised the bar. The 2019 Day of Giving event takes place on Thursday, June 27, with a goal of $64,000 for seven local charities. The giving day takes place a week before the community-wide Independence Day celebration on July 3. “We started doing it the day before July 4 so we wouldn’t compete with other celebrations,” notes Amsler. Community members will have the opportunity to give at the event as well, and the nonprofits will have a presence at the event to solicit offline donations.
Across the country, giving days are an opportunity for a community to put nonprofits in the spotlight and promote online charitable giving. Amplify Austin, for example, raised $11 million for 750 charities this past March. And Giving Tuesday, a nationwide giving day on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, raised almost $400 million online.
Like other giving days, Day of Giving in Liberty Hill serves two purposes. It not only raises money for charitable projects, it also raises awareness about local nonprofits. Among the projects raising money this year are the Liberty Hill Public Library, trying to raise $18,000 to replace an HVAC system on the brink of giving out, and Dream a Dream Therapeutic Horsemanship, aiming for $6,725 to send children with special needs to the equine-facilitated therapy camp.
Last year, the local nonprofit Hope House raised more than $6,000 to purchase a large storage building, shelving, and supplies. Hope House operates four homes that provide long-term housing and support for people with severe mental and physical disabilities.
“They are like a large family,” said Erland Schulze of Hope House. “Some of the children who came here over 50 years ago are still living here today as senior citizens.” This year, they’ll try to raise $6,000 to complete a bathroom remodeling project that will better accommodate people in wheelchairs.
Amsler says they’ll have to wait until after the holiday to find out if they reached their goal. “But if the nonprofits don’t meet their goals that’s okay because they enjoy being a part of it and getting their names out there,” she said. “I think people don’t realize all that’s going on in Liberty Hill. They see these nonprofits and say they had no idea that was going on right here in our backyard.”