SPEARFISH — makeSPACE is launching its local fundraising effort to encourage people who are able to share a portion of their federal COVID stimulus checks with those in the community that are more financially impacted by the pandemic.
“When the first round of stimulus checks were going out, there were a couple organizations that organized a ‘share my check’ campaign,” said Niklas Peters, program director for makeSPACE. “Basically, if you still had secure income and you didn’t actually need this federal stimulus money for survival, then you were encouraged to donate it either to organizations or other groups that could use it.”
Peters said that between May and October 2020, makeSPACE collected around $8,000 from generous donors.
“100% of the money goes out to people. We’re not using any of it for administrative expenses or anything like that,” he said. “We created a short online form where they gave us a bit of information about their situation. … Someone from makeSPACE would have a follow up call just to verify some of that information.”
Last year, 21 families received on average $370 to help pay for groceries, utilities, and warm clothes for winter, with some families receiving up to $500.
While most folks who received funds just needed a little extra cash to stay ahead of their expenses, Peters said there were some families who found themselves in far more dire straits.
“There were some folks that were living at a campground and looking to get into a permanent rental,” he said. “Basically they had become homeless and the best option was to be camping at a nearby campground … (As a way) to not be on the streets essentially.”
By and large, Spearfish and the Northern Hills have been very fortunate throughout the pandemic, but Peters said what he and the COVID relief fund committee saw last year was a bit of a wake up call to action.
“It was definitely an eye-opening experience for makeSPACE and the members on this committee – how much of a housing crisis there is in Spearfish and the Northern Hills where there’s just not affordable housing for people and it’s really hard for folks to get into anything that has some sort of rental assistance or that has a section 8 sort of thing,” he said. “We had these issues of people struggling with housing, with good employment prior to the pandemic and the COVID-19 pandemic just makes all these issues even worse and come to light.”
With the second round of federal stimulus checks making their way to Americans across the country and a third being discussed in Congress, makeSPACE is once again collecting donations from folks that are looking to spread some extra good will with the extra money they may not necessarily need during this time.
“Those who are in a more secure financial position, their money can go a long way in helping a family make ends meet,” Peters said.
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