Launching the 37375 Campaign for Local COVID-19 Funding

During these uncertain times, one thing is clear. There is a greater need for health and safety products to help keep the community safe.

The first positive coronavirus case for Tennessee was in the beginning of March. By the middle of March, all schools, non-essential businesses, organizations, and churches were all closed. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a number of Executive Orders, including a State of Emergency. People were told to stay home, unless it was absolutely necessary to go out in public. The state of emergency is in place until Aug. 29, 2020. 

Some of the restrictions in place by the Executive Orders were eventually lifted. Businesses and organizations were allowed to phase-in reopening. The K-12 schools, colleges and universities all remained closed, and offered online classes and instruction. Churches only offered services online. Organizations had meetings via Zoom online. Some local nonprofits, such as the Sewanee Senior Center and Folks at Home, ceased their normal program offerings to the public.

Sewanee restaurants and area retail businesses offered online ordering and curbside pick-up to stay afloat. When they were allowed to start to reopen, they asked the customers to wear masks. These businesses offered masks if the customer did not have one, and had hand sanitizer available. They stepped up their cleaning and sanitation efforts. And, as with the toilet paper shortage back in March, these health and sanitation items are now in short supply on the shelves at the local grocery stores, retail giants such as Walmart, or even ordering them online.

Almost daily, the state, the Departments of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization released new guidance on how to protect yourself and others during this pandemic, which included wearing a mask, washing your hands, physical distancing yourself, and other necessary sanitation measures.

On July 3, University of the South Vice-Chancellor Reuben Brigety instituted a mandatory mask directive for all persons on the Sewanee Domain—to include residents, visitors, students, faculty, and staff. Local schools such as Sewanee Elementary, the Sewanee Children’s Center and St. Andrew’s-Sewanee also instituted a mask wearing directive, and other mandatory safety precautions.

“This is when I knew we needed to do something to help our community,” said Joseph Sumpter, Sewanee Business Alliance (SBA) president. “We had to make sure everyone in this community had access to health and safety products. We had to make the town, organizations and the local business district as safe as possible during this pandemic.”

The SBA approached the key local nonprofit, the Sewanee Civic Association, to partner in a campaign to raise necessary funding for the purchase and distribution of COVID-19 health and safety products for the local Sewanee community and organizations.

The Sewanee Civic Association (SCA) is the sponsor of the Sewanee Community Chest, its nonprofit. Since 1908, the Sewanee Community Chest (SCC) has raised money the town could not raise in taxes because it was unincorporated, in order to make municipal improvements. The SCC raises money annually to support basic needs in the community such as books, food, elder care, animal care, recreational spaces, children’s programs and more.

The SCA and the SBA are partnering on this new fundraising campaign, the 37375 Campaign, to raise funds for the purchase and distribution of health and safety products and services. These goods and services will then be distributed to Sewanee’s nonprofit organizations, SBA members, senior citizens organizations, churches, and PreK-12 schools on the Domain and its outskirts. The goal of this campaign is to raise $37,375.

“Special fundraising for projects deemed beneficial to the community in addition to the annual Sewanee Community Chest campaign is supported by the Sewanee Civic Association,” said Brandon Barry, president of the SCA. “We are the organization who has and will continue to help facilitate both infrastructural improvements and drive social change within the Sewanee community. In promoting social and service opportunities, this 37375 Campaign is fully within the mission of the SCA.”

The 37375 Campaign fundraising is modeled after the successful SCA For the Parks camapign, where more than $69,000 was raised to refurbish Elliott Park in addition to the $101,000 SCC fundraiser that year. A number of partnerships from community members, the University, foundations, and grant allocations made that campaign successful.

“There are those who need protective equipment and supplies for their jobs, to go to school, to attend places of worship, to participate as normally and safely as possible,” said Barry. “We want to make sure all these organizations and businesses have what they need to function, and provide them with the necessary products and aid to maintain operations  during this crisis. The 37375 Campaign has the flexibility to meet the needs of our local organizations.”

“With this partnership, we are assisting our friends and neighbors by acting responsibly and locally during a global pandemic,” said Barry.

This unique special project for local COVID-19 health and safety donations will end on Sept. 30, 2020. Anything raised in excess of the stated goal will go towards the annual SCC fundraising effort for 25 area nonprofits, which is scheduled to begin this fall.

To make a donation, send a check payable to Sewanee Community Chest 37375 Campaign, P.O. Box 99, Sewanee, TN 37375. You may also use PayPal for online giving at The SCC is a 501 (c) (3) organization, and donations are tax-deductible.

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