By JEREMY SPEER

They do a tremendous amount of good in our communities.

They help those who need it. They give children an outlet. They aid community pride.

The old, the young, the under-represented “” they all are assisted by nonprofits.

In my year in Northwest Ohio, I’ve been struck by the variety of nonprofits and the amazing group of directors, employees and volunteers who help them go.

I know, firsthand, that they are always battling the budget, relying on civic-minded businesses and individuals to help them thrive. In the local nonprofit world, nothing is lavish, no budget is filled with excess.

And then came COVID-19.

In a world where all businesses and endeavors have been challenged, nonprofits are on exceptionally shifting sand right now. In our neck of the woods, everyone looks to the spring and summer as a chance to get out and about, and many of our local nonprofits utilize large fundraising events during these months. With a lockdown and social measuring guidelines persisting even after the lockdown has been relaxed, holding an event that includes a large number of people simply isn’t feasible right now. Fun, relaxing events designed to both entertain and loosen attendees’ purse strings are unlikely, at least through the early part of the summer.

And then, many of the individuals and businesses nonprofits have relied upon to help fund their operations are struggling unlike they ever have before. In some cases, those donations now do not fit into those businesses’ budgets, as many are in a fight to simply keep their doors open.

It’s a vicious cycle as people and entities are not spending money like they have before, which adds to the vulnerability to nonprofits and other safety nets.

Brenna Griteman, an editor at The Courier, summed it up best for me when she described a conversation between herself and the Findlay-Hancock County Community Foundation. The foundation told her that while donations are down, people calling on these agencies are up.

A quick recollection showed that in Hancock County, among those events that have been canceled are Hancock Literacy’s Community Spelling Bee, Christian Clearing House’s annual Spring Garage Sale, Kiwanis Club of Findlay’s Pancake Day and the Humane Society & SCPA of Hancock County’s annual golf outing. The list undoubtedly goes on and on.

We in the local news business are doing our part to try and tell as many stories as we can. We’ve also taken this concept digital, with the creation of our new Give Kindness sites.

At two of our news sites, thecourier.com and reviewtimes.com, we have created a local directory of nonprofit organizations. From those pages, click on the Give Kindness logo to see the directory and donate to your organization of choice. It is another piece in the important partnership between our papers and the communities they serve.

One thing that is for certain “” the spirit of local nonprofits continues to forge ahead. Jodie Reinbolt, executive director of the Tiffin Community Foundation, told me her entity has established an emergency fund to cover the immediate needs of nonprofits amid the pandemic.

“Individuals and businesses have been very generous with their contributions to that fund,” Reinbolt said. “So far, we have been able to make distributions toward the work being done to create the face shields being produced and used in Seneca County, and we have purchased Chromebooks for Tiffin City Schools for use with their online learning.”

She also said the foundation’s youth group has contributed to the disaster fund with Tiffin-Seneca United Way, the Tiffin YMCA children’s food program and First Presbyterian Church’s Tiffin Community Non-food Pantry.

Efforts like these exist in our communities, and we will continue to work hard to tell their stories in the pages of our papers.

But local nonprofits are always in need, most especially now. If the ability is there, please consider donating to a local nonprofit as a way to help kickstart the economy. We are talking about backbones of our local community “” entities we are all rooting hard for amid the turbulent times.

Speer is the publisher of The Courier in Findlay, The Advertiser-Tribune in Tiffin and the Review Times in Fostoria. He can be reached at Send an E-mail to jeremyspeer or jspeer@advertiser-tribune.com.

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