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Red Wing gives anyway

Created by people who donated to nonprofits during Give to the Max in Red Wing, the mosaic is complete and just needs to be grouted before being displayed in a public place, organizer Jason Jech said. (Republican Eagle photo by Stacy Bengs)

Locals didn’t give up when the website set up to collect donations for Give to the Max went down Thursday, even though the day was focused on online giving to nonprofits.

“People were tenacious enough that they found a way to get the money to them,” said Jason Jech, one of the local event organizers and Environmental Learning Center executive director. Some people came to the YMCA where the Red Wing Gives event was going on and dropped off checks for the nonprofits, while others kept trying to get through on the website until they found an opening.

Despite a prolonged outage of in the middle of the day and intermittent problems, local nonprofits still raised significant funds, Red Wing Gives organizers said. The local event, where nonprofits set up booths, activities and demonstrations at the Red Wing YMCA, also provided participants a way to keep the momentum going, Jech said.

“By coming together it kind of helped smooth it over, so to speak,” he said. “We just kept doing what we’re doing, and locally we did pretty well.”

Donation totals are still being calculated, but an estimated $125,000 was donated in cash and checks to area nonprofits, YMCA social responsibility director Elaine O’Keefe said in an email.

More than $17 million was raised statewide during Give to the Max Day, executive director Dana Nelson said in an email to participants.

“With our website down or slow for a significant portion of the day, it has been an unbelievably frustrating, disappointing but amazing day,” she wrote.

The website outage could impact how nonprofits total what they made during Give to the Max and cause other confusion.

“They’ve got a little bit of a headache to deal with,” Jech said of GiveMN.

Still, the local event was popular and went well, organizers said.

Participants helped create a community mosaic, new to the Red Wing Gives event this year. It just needs to be grouted and then will be displayed publicly, Jech said.

“The mosaic was beautiful,” he said. Donors added tiles to the piece throughout the day.

In its third year, Red Wing Gives has proven to be a successful way to raise money and awareness, nonprofits said.

Jech said when the ELC started participating, he thought donations might go down because his organization would be in a room competing with other nonprofits.

“But the exact opposite happened,” he said.

The event helps nonprofits network and build relationships, organizers say, and pool their efforts to raise funds. And that was no different this year.

“Despite what happened, I think it was still a win,” Jech said.

Danielle Killey

Danielle Killey covers local government for the South Washington County Bulletin. She has worked as a reporter for other Forum Communications newspapers since 2011. She graduated from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities with a journalism degree.

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