Chatham Children's Fund Gets Gift Card Match From Broad Reach

By: Tim Wood

Broad Reach Healthcare is matching up to $500 in gift card donations to the Chatham Children's Fund, and the First Congregational Church of Chatham is donating $5,000, even though its annual pumpkin sale, which usually generates the money for the annual donation, was canceled this year. TIM WOOD PHOTO

CHATHAM – As the Chatham Children's Fund prepares for the holiday season, a local business has stepped up to help meet what is anticipated to be a higher than usual demand for assistance to local families.

Broad Reach Healthcare has offered to match up to $500 in gift card donations to the organization. Due to the pandemic, rather than shopping for clothing and holiday gifts for local families, the Children's Fund recently announced that it was seeking cash and gift card donations. The non-profit organization is starting its holiday program early this year because of anticipated demand as the seasonal economy slows more than usual.

Broad Reach's offer came after one of the Children's Fund “elves” posted a notice of the need for gift card donations on social media.

“That program had always been one supported during my days with the Rotary Club,” CEO Bill Bogdanovich wrote in an email, “and I remember when my daughter Lara was at [Chatham Elementary School] there were families that spoke highly of its impact in town. It just seemed that especially during these times, there's something to be said for reaching out a little further.”

He said he plans to ask 10 staff members to help out, giving them the money to purchase gift cards, buying two each – one for the Children's Fund and one either for their own family or to give to another organization. “It's kind of a match of a match,” he wrote.

As of last week, Children's Fund coordinator Pat Vreeland said about $100 in gift cards had been donated. She's confident there will be more. Gift card donations can be sent to the Chatham Children’s Fund in care of Monomoy Community Services, 166 Depot Rd., Chatham, MA 02633, or left in the mail slot in the door at Monomoy Community Services.

The pandemic threatened to eliminate another major funding source for the organization with the cancellation of the First Congregational Church of Chatham's annual “Pumpkin Patch” sale because of construction at the church and the pandemic, according to Pastor Joseph Marchio. The church usually donated $5,000 from the proceeds of the sale to the Children's Fund, and will be able to do so this year by tapping other sources, he said.

“This organization is near and dear to the hearts of the people of this church,” Marchio said in an email. “We are also giving, through the generosity of members, $2,500 to other local groups on the front lines of helping those in need here on the Cape.” The pumpkin sale will return next year, he added.

“That's a big chunk” of the donations the Children's Fund relies on, Vreeland said of the pumpkin sale. The church, she added, has been a major support of the program “since day one.”

Each winter the Children's Fund provides the approximately 120 children in the program with a winter coat and boots, a hat and gloves, two clothing outfits, a pair of pajamas, a sweater or sweatshirt, socks and underwear, as well as a holiday gift from their own wish list. Seventy-nine organizations, businesses and churches contribute regularly, and last year 194 volunteer shoppers collected the items for individual children. This year it was determined that the pandemic made shopping impractical, so participants in the program – expected to increase significantly over the usual numbers – will receive gift cards as well as clothing.

“It will be a different kind of Christmas for the Children's Fund, but we'll get our coats and gift cards and it will be good,” Vreeland said. She hoped that the church donation and the Broad Reach match will spur other residents and businesses to get involved.

“We have such a wonderful community,” she said. “Especially for the kids, they come out of the woodwork.”