Fire drill

Third, fourth and fifth grade students at Cherry Street Youth Center practice a fire drill Wednesday afternoon. After a nail-biting start, the center’s fall fundraising drive outdid previous years to finish 2020.

GREG LOWER

Donors to Cherry Street Youth Center came through in December to exceed fundraising goals.

The effort brought in $28,000 more than fundraising in 2019, after falling behind the first two months.

“It was crazy,” Executive Director Jennifer Shields said. “It was quite the nail-biter for me.”

The drive finished December with $92,000 plus a $50,000 matching grant. Shields said checks are still trickling in, and those that are written for December will still count as deductions on 2020 taxes.

The drive provided enough for a half year of programming.

“That’s pretty great to have half a year,” Shields said.

Each year, the Cherry Street Youth Center tries to raise $50,000 to meet a dollar-for-dollar matching grant. The drive starts Oct. 1 and usually ends Christmas Day.

This year, the usual matching donor notified Shields in September it was not in a position to make the grant. Shields put out an appeal, and lined up a new anonymous donor within a month to make the match. The new donor also allowed the drive to continue until the last day of December.

During 2019, the center collected $12,000 in October and about the same in November for a total drive of $64,000. But Shields said this year only brought $4,500 by the end of October and $6,000 during November.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Shields said she was not able to check the mail as frequently as normal, but in December the center received $48,000 from individuals, including one in Minnesota who continues to support the center.

It also received $6,000 from churches. Groups in Stark and Iola sent donations, and businesses contributed $9,000.

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