By Carson Gerber
Tribune staff writer
On the last day of 2012, the bank accounts at the local nonprofit We Care were completely penniless. The organization was broke — in the best way possible.
Throughout the last year, We Care — with the help of thousands of volunteers — raised $412,495 through annual fundraisers like the telethon auction and trim-a-tree festival.
And by the end of December, all that money had been donated to five local nonprofits to help beef up their charitable impact in the community.
“We’re just thrilled the community always comes through,” said Becky Varnell, president of the We Care board of directors. “It’s always been about giving back to the community. That’s been the driving force behind We Care from the beginning.”
And giving back to the community in 2012 meant this: $105,000 to the Salvation Army, Goodfellows and Kokomo Rescue Mission; $85,000 to Bona Vista; and $10,000 to the Mental Health Association. That’s the same amount We Care was able to donate to the organizations in 2011.
“We’re grateful for this money,” said Brianne Boruff, vice president of development and vocation services at Bona Vista. She said the group has received money from We Care since 1997. “We rely on it on an annual basis, and without it, we wouldn’t be able to affect the lives of the individuals we care for.”
In addition to the donations, $2,495 was placed in the We Care Hope Trust Fund, which provides needed financial support to the We Care recipient organizations on a perpetual basis. Varnell said there’s currently more than $2 million in the fund.
Despite fundraising efforts, donations were down by about $18,000 from 2011, but Varnell said it wasn’t much of a concern.
“We never ponder on that,” she said, noting We Care never sets a fundraising goal. “We’re always happy with what we get. It’s exciting and fun to go over what you got last year, but the main thing is to give what we need to give to these five organizations.”
The We Care coffers may be empty now, but Varnell said the group is already brainstorming new ways to replenish its funds this year to once again donate to organizations at the end of 2013.
“We’re trying to look into new ideas to keep people interested and keep donations coming into We Care,” she said. “You want to stimulate people and try different things, but the bottom line will be exactly the same — to help the community.”
And Boruff said that’s what makes the organization such a unique fixture in Kokomo.
“You don’t find groups like We Care in too many communities,” she said. “It’s an origination that truly exists to help and serve the community.”
By the numbers:
40th annual WWKI We Care telethon, $216,448.05
Clean-up auction, $20,500
Wyant’s We Care Park, $75,000
Trim-A-Tree Festival, $53,653.99
Bar Wars, $9,935.58
Salvation Army, $105,000
Kokomo Rescue Mission, $105,000
Bona Vista, $85,000
Mental Health Association, $10,000
Carson Gerber is a Kokomo Tribune reporter. He may be reached by phone at 765-854-6739, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.