The miracle of the ‘Great Give’

More than $1 million expected to be donated May 2 for Kitsap non-profits


Kitsap Great Give is a 24-hour period of online giving and is part of a nationwide day of local giving.

The response is somewhat of a miracle: In Kitsap, residents and businesses donate more than $1 million to local nonprofits that care for and find homes for animals, fund arts and cultural programs, meet basic needs in our communities, improve our communities, support education, work to protect the environment, and provide health care, human services and youth development programs.

Kitsap Great Give is organized by the Kitsap Community Foundation and the United Way of Kitsap County. Those organizations collect no fees; each tax-deductible donation goes directly to the nonprofit or nonprofits of the donor’s choice (more than 250 local non-profits are registered). And for each donation made on May 2 on, an additional donation is made by a local sponsor.

Each donation, whether $5 or $500, becomes part of something greater. Chances are good you benefit from some of the organizations on the Kitsap Great Give list. We’ll let a few of the nonprofits share what a difference each gift makes.

The Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation has been working to expand and care for Bainbridge’s parks, trails and open space since 1998. Barb Trafton, the foundation’s executive director, said that in addition to financial support, Kitsap Great Give provides valuable off-island exposure.

“It helps to increase community knowledge of [the foundation]. We’re associating with all of Kitsap County through the Great Give movement,” Trafton said.

Bainbridge Youth Services offers confidential counseling, peer tutoring, internships, scholarships, and job-search assistance to local residents ages 12–19. In addition to funding, Kitsap Great Give makes more people aware of all the non-profits “that are out here working to benefit the community,” executive director Marina Cofer-Wildsmith said. “It also [enables] each of us to recruit more volunteers because the more people know about us, the more people want to get involved, and that’s wonderful.”

Myra Battin, Bremerton Backpack Brigade: “The Backpack Brigade provides a backpack of food to children in families that have been identified by somebody at their school as facing food insecurity. We make sure they have nutritious food to eat on the weekend.

“We’re very aware that without proper nutrition, these kids can’t learn. That’s the goal: keep them in school, keep them learning, help them move on in a good direction. The donations we receive from our supporters allow us to purchase fresh fruit and vegetables and milk to include every week in the backpacks and replenish our pantry supplies when they run low.”

Tom Weed, director of donor relations at Kitsap Humane Society: “The Kitsap Community Foundation’s Great Give is huge for KHS and we are really excited about our goal this year to raise over $50,000 in a 24-hour period. This money will allow us to do more for the over 6,000 animals that will go through our doors this year. The differences we can make every single day would not be possible without the support of our animal loving community. Your donation will help to support the unfunded programs that provide lifesaving care to the animals of KHS.

“Over the last several years, KHS has achieved record-breaking results in terms of animals saved, animals transferred in from other shelters, our spay/neuter program, medical rehabilitation, foster care and our behavior training programs. Having said that, there are still thousands of homeless and at-risk pets around our region that can be rescued. We want to help them find new and loving homes. We want to do more and the Great Give allows us to raise the critical funds necessary to make that all happen.”

Katie Niles, South Kitsap Band Boosters board member: “We provide transportation for [South Kitsap High School] students for two of their big band trips. We also provide T-shirts for band camp and meals before each event. It’s a lot of fundraising. The other thing we do is provide scholarship money for kids who can’t afford to be in band or participate in trips.

“The band participates in the summer Fathoms O’ Fun Parade and has been a part of numerous new-business grand openings. They’ve been involved with ‘Make a Wish for South Kitsap’ and have performed at senior centers. There is a high demand for band, and the students give back to the community constantly.”

South Kitsap Helpline has been helping local residents with food and other assistance since 1980. “South Kitsap Helpline receives funding [from the Great Give] for specific programs we offer that help local low/no-income children, adults and seniors,” Helpline executive director Jennifer Hardison reported. “In the past, funds have been used to purchase a commercial refrigerator, allowing us to purchase more dairy products, to funding our children’s meal programs. As a donation-based agency, we rely on funds like this to help us serve the more than 4,000 children, adults and seniors we do every month here in Port Orchard.

“With support from the community, last year our agency was able to distribute 1,215,663 pounds of food to local individuals and families in crisis. In a nutshell, our non-profit agency provides critical food and other services to help people meet their basic needs.”

“I am lobbying for Stand Up For Kids,” Rita Nicholson wrote. “We help homeless teens and at-risk youths with food, shelter, school supplies — 365 days a year. Help us keep them in school to become productive adults.”

From the staff at the West Sound Wildlife Shelter: “By donating to the West Sound Wildlife Shelter, you will be supporting the direct care and rehabilitation of injured, orphaned and sick wildlife, and helping to promote the well-being of wildlife through our live wildlife ambassador education program. Treating more than 1,600 wildlife patients in 2016, West Sound Wildlife Shelter is your regional wildlife care facility, the only wildlife rehabilitation and education facility in the western Puget Sound region.”

— With reporting by Michelle Beahm, Bob Smith, and Nick Tweitmeyer of Kitsap News Group.