By Joanna Puddister King
JACKSON – This year’s iGiveCatholic one-day online giving campaign raised more than $12.6 million from 48,256 donors across the United States. The Diocese of Jackson raised $171,412 for parishes, schools and organizations.
This is the fifth year the diocese has participated in iGiveCatholic. Organizers sought to take advantage of a national philanthropy effort called Giving Tuesday, which falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a charitable counterpart to the consumerism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. More dioceses have joined every year, making it a truly national effort. “Being part of the iGiveCatholic GivingTuesday unites Catholics across the world as we celebrate our Catholic faith by giving to others,” said Rebecca Harris, executive director of The Catholic Foundation for the Diocese of Jackson.
The idea is simple, iGiveCatholic provides an online giving platform for parishes, schools and diocesan-sponsored organizations. Those who choose to participate select a particular project they want to fund. The organizations can promote the projects however they want. Many use videos and social media to raise awareness about their effort during the advanced giving phase of the effort. Then the big push happens on Tuesday, Dec. 1, when the website accepts donations for 24 hours.
“I want to give a big shout out to Julia Williams, assistant stewardship and development director, for all of her efforts with iGiveCatholic. She reached out to all of our parishes, schools and organizations and worked to make sure their pages on the website were looking good and to offer any assistance they needed,” said Harris.
Williams’ efforts paid off with 2020 being the biggest year for #iGiveCatholic donations in the diocese. This year’s top earner was St. Jude parish in Pearl. The parish had a variety of projects ranging from filling in a huge hole on the hill in front of the property, to updating the atrium classrooms and the old rectory, purchasing a Roman Missal in Latin, and installing a new outdoor stations of the cross. Parish staff set the goal for the campaign at $15,000, but with the aid of social media videos showing the importance of the projects leading up to the giving day, St. Jude raised over $24,500 for the projects.
“We were so excited about the response we got from our #iGiveCatholic campaign. … We had people who are not even parishioners, including a lady who was a member of the Mississippi Teachers Corps with me 20 years ago, want to help out our parish. It is very humbling to see such generosity, especially in the midst of the pandemic. I am blessed as a priest to have a very engaged active parish,” said Father Lincoln Dall of St. Jude parish.
Other parish projects included wireless internet access for Madison St. Francis Parish and rectory roof repairs at the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle.
Diocesan schools did well during the campaign. St. Richard Jackson surpassed their goal to raise $10,000 for their playground improvement plan, raising over $23,000 for the project that will spark creativity and inspire children outside the classroom. Vicksburg Catholic Schools will have almost $19,000 to make improvements to their nearly 20-year-old playground. St. Joseph School in Madison will put over $10,000 toward upgrades in the Bruin cafe. St. Anthony School in Madison raised over $18,500 for an outdoor learning space and Jackson Sister Thea Bowman School raised over $7,000.
“To say #iGiveCatholic was a success … is an understatement” said Jennifer David, principal at St. Richard. She said the school as received even more donations since the giving platform closed and now have more than $25,000 towards playground renovations.
St. Richard School’s playground improvement has three phases. “Phase one … includes the completion of our outdoor classroom, the addition of outdoor music equipment and the installation of the Finn Garden,” said David. The garden will be a beautiful, peaceful place of mediation and reflection celebrating the love of the outdoors of St. Richard student, Finn Blaylock, who lost his battle to cancer last year. “We think our students will love having a place to sit surrounded by beautiful plants, water features and frog statues – Finn’s favorite. We know Finn will be smiling down from Heaven every day.”
Phase two involves resolving drainages issues to be able to install a ball pit and phase three will include a zip line. David said that there are also several swings, a slide down the hillside, among others that will be installed “to add icing to the cake.”
“We will have the coolest playground around, and we couldn’t have done it without our wonderful generous supporters. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart,” said David.
Assistant stewardship and development director, Williams said, “The commitment and hard work of each participating location proved to be the most successful #iGiveCatholic campaign on #GivingTuesday ever … I predict this global day of giving will continue to grow with each passing year.”