For months, local nonprofits have struggled — like so many others — to make ends meet amid the COVID-19 pandemic. As more individuals and families need resources, and more and more fundraiser events are canceled or moved online, community support is more important than ever.

So the Community Foundation of San Joaquin has launched a 24-hour virtual fundraising challenge to try and meet those needs. 209Gives launched in the early hours of the morning today, and will run until 11:59 p.m. tonight.

209Gives brings together donors to local nonprofits with the goal of raising both cash and awareness for participating organizations.

But to make things a little more exciting, there’s a limited number of prizes for nonprofits that hit specific goals.

For example, the nonprofit that receives the furthest away donation — measured by the distance of the donor’s mailing address from Stockton — will receive an additional $250. There’s an additional $500 for the agency that raises the most money from noon to 1 p.m. today through the 209Gives platform. Any agency where all of the board members make a verified donation through the 209Gives platform will be entered to win $300.

And, of course, the nonprofits that raise the most will be eligible for prizes as well.

Many of the organizations have also found sponsors who will match donations up to a certain amount.

Anyone who wants to contribute can visit www.209gives.org, search for an organization of their choice, and click the “donate” button.

Several Lodi nonprofits have joined the campaign:

Changing Faces Theater Company

The local theater company gives acting opportunities to both new and experienced performers of all ages. Founded in 2002, Changing Faces had just signed a lease on their new black box theater on Lodi Avenue when the pandemic hit.

While the company has stayed active and afloat with “pop-up” performances to small, socially distanced, outdoor audiences during the pandemic, they need about $10,000 to complete the work on their new theater and pay the rent until they can officially open.

Changing Faces plans to offer classes and workshops in the new space, as well as performances.

Giving Opportunities to Kids Foundation

The GOT Kids Foundation supports local youngsters and their teachers in Lodi Unified School District with opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. In the past, the organization has funded summer science programs, field trips, student art shows and clubs. GOT Kids has sponsored academic teams to competitions, helped provide students in need with school clothes and supplies, and connected high school seniors with scholarship opportunities.

For the 2020-21 school year, the foundation is focused on three programs: diabetes education, mental health support, and financial literacy. All funds raised go directly to children.

Lodi Community Art Center

The Lodi Community Art Center hosts an art gallery in Downtown Lodi, where they teach classes and workshops, show art from members and students, host contests, and more. The volunteer-run center, which has more than 60 members currently, has been active in the Lodi arts scene for more than 60 years.

Throughout the pandemic, though the gallery has been closed to the public, volunteers with the art center have continued to bring art to the community via Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, along with a member-curated list of at-home art resources at www.lodiartcenter.org.

Donations will help pay for rent, insurance and utilities to keep the art center open. Donations will be matched up to $1,200.

LOEL Foundation

Founded in 1976, the LOEL Senior Center provides resources, low-cost meals and classes to local senior citizens. Programs and activities range from card groups and movie days to yoga, pickleball, Bingo and more.

Since the start of the pandemic, the LOEL Center has been closed to the public but has continued to serve its members through the Meals on Wheels program for those who qualify, and enrolling other seniors in the State of California’s Great Plates Delivered program. For many of the seniors, the LOEL Center staff are their lifeline during this time of isolation.

The foundation also owns 14 affordable housing units for local seniors.

San Joaquin County Historical Museum

Located at Micke Grove Park, the San Joaquin County Historical Museum has spent decades collecting and showcasing local history. Each year, students from all over San Joaquin County visit for the immersive Valley Days program, where they learned what the county was like in the late 1800s.

The museum runs entirely on memberships and donations, with volunteers providing the bulk of the labor. Donations made through 209Gives will help support archival preservation, educational programs and exhibit curation, along with other costs.

OG Packing Company, Morada Produce/Morada Nut Company, and Rivermaid Trading Co. have each agreed to match $10,000 in donations.

World of Wonders Science Museum

The WOW Museum teaches local young people about physics, engineering, chemistry and other scientific fields with a collection of hands-on exhibits. It’s a favorite destination for student field trips from schools all over the Central Valley, and WOW staff members bring hands-on fun to classrooms around Lodi with the WOW on Wheels program.

To see all of the participating organizations or to donate, visit www.209gives.org.

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