Inspired by Oprah’s Big Give and American Idol’s “Idol Gives Back,” the 4th annual Long Beach Giving Project recently granted $20,000 in goods and services to local residents, according to Justin Rudd, the director of the nonprofit Community Action Team (CAT), which coordinated the project.
The first round of contestants in the Giving Project were made up of 11 of CAT’s most exemplary volunteers and supporters from the past year. Those 11 were given $1,000 cash on Friday, March 18, and they had just eight days to give it away (in goods and services). While the clock was counting down, the contestants went around Long Beach to find ways to make an impact– up to $500 at a time. The contestants were asked to use their leadership, creativity and resources to make differences in people’s lives.
Then, last Saturday night, the “Givers” faced a panel of judges: a group of approximately 25 Long Beach Giving Project alumni. The judges and a crowd of about 150 spectators listened to each Giver’s six-minute spiel as they explained what they did with the $1,000 they were given. The three-hour presentation event and dinner culminated with one contestant walking home with an extra $1,000 in her pocket with the challenge to give it away within the next month.
Twenty-four-year old Elisa Sabes, who has helped at 25 CAT events in the last year, was selected by the judges to receive the $1,000 prize. “If I were to win the $1,000, I would continue reaching out to as many lives as possible,” she said, before the judges’ decision had been announced. “Once I began my ‘gives,’ I realized just how many people truly need help in our community. Whether it be a new pair of shoes for a little boy, or new bedding for a family that is currently sleeping with donation blankets, I would simply continue touching as many lives as possible. The most rewarding aspect of this experience so far has been making a difference in people’s lives. What an amazing experience this has been, and for it to continue for another month would be an incredible opportunity and blessing.”
Other $1,000 Givers were: Andrew Capra, Andrew Kishman, Angi Carelli, Ashleigh Oldland, Blair Cohn, Christina Beck, Dana Treitler, Dara Samson, Greg Perrault, and Kym Cloughesy.
Some goods and services that the participants gave include: college scholarships, tires, shoes, space heaters, laundry services, computers, socks, underwear, rain gear, haircuts, medications, transit passes, gasoline, furniture, groceries, clothing, diapers, high chairs, bedding, swim lessons, acupuncture, childcare, art supplies, instrument rentals, prom and grad night tickets, hygiene items and college counseling. Givers also paid rent, utility bills, phone bills, and gave hotel nights for homeless during recent rains.
The second round of giving for the project allows the general public to email Rudd to say what they would do if they received $250 to help someone. Approximately 100 requests were emailed, and a preliminary panel of judges culled it down to 31 semi-finalists who were invited to attend the Saturday night dinner and present their request during a one-minute spiel to the judges. The finalists were chosen and have been given seven days to make their purchases and do their giving.
The $250 mini grant givers will give: a wheelchair, public transit passes, groceries, clothes, hygiene items, shoes, school uniforms, craft supplies, a baby bed, baby blankets, light bulbs, dog food, kitty litter, pet supplies, prom tickets, car tires, soccer equipment, school supplies, Hebrew lessons, and baby clothing. Givers also paid to put gas in vehicles, paid for housing for homeless persons, made car payments, covered service fees for work permits, fixed cars and purchased snacks for after-school programs. Additionally, they paid rent on apartments and paid electric, gas, physical therapy, medical and vet bills.