5 Places to Consider Giving for the ROC the Day

Student loan debt cripples millions of Americans but an initiative in NY is now making college more accessible.

Student loan debt cripples millions of Americans but an initiative in NY is now making college more accessible.

The holiday season is marked by huge sales, long lines and hot new products. Monday marked the largest Cyber Monday in American history, with sales up by more than 16 percent. Local organizations are hoping Americans will be as generous with their money one day later, on Giving Tuesday. Organizations across the nation are raising funds. Locally, we have ROC the Day, an effort by United Way of Rochester to bring all of the organizations together in an easy-to-navigate website. By 9.a.m more than $75,000 has already been raised. Here are five organizations if you just don’t know where to start this Giving Tuesday:

  •  The Baobab Cultural Center: Located on University Avenue, this cultural community center boasts a full program on African history. The Center offers art history courses, discussions and yoga classes but recently announced it’s in danger of shutting down by the end of this year. It’s not listed on the website but is currently raising funds for Giving Tuesday. It used to partner with school programs, offering field trips to local Rochester City School District students but those programs have been pared down. Terry Chaka heads the Center and in an earlier profile  explained the Center’s purpose: “We’re not just about African-American history because that history is such a small part of our history. Very often thats where our focus is and we focus there because we don’t know the history that came before. So, there are people that know but the masses of people don’t.” The Baobab is also the home of local Kwanzaa planning, weekly movie screenings and key holiday get-togethers. Visit their website.

The Baobab Cultural Center transports you upon walking into its doors. Credit: Tianna Manon

  • The Flying Squirrel Community Space: “The Flying Squirrel Community Space…provides a safe and free gathering place for community members, artists, activists, and grassroots groups where people can congregate and organize around important issues and realize innovative community projects.” The 285 Clarissa Street location is the perfect spot for artists and activists looking for a cause or a team. It’s the home of local groupsTake Back the Land, Enough is Enough, B.L.A.C.K., Rochester Indymedia (independent media). Like the Baobab, it also holds community discussions, movie screenings and holiday gatherings. However, the Flying Squirrel has little money and is currently in need of a new roof.
  • Mental Health Association: The Mental Health Association has seen a lot of love locally, but you may not know that it’s been around for over 80 years. Recently the organization moved its Life Skills Services to Village Gate and also runs employment programs and community education discussions.  MHA currently has a matching campaign going on; for every donation it receives today, there will be a match by a local donor- up to $2,500.
“Our organization is often referred to as a ‘safe oasis’ and ‘beacon of hope’ for kids in Rochester,” – Boys & Girls Club of Rochester
  • Boys and Girls Club – That beautiful shiny building on Genesee Street has a dark past. It was the site of a mass shooting just a few years ago, but the community has worked hard to make sure the center bounces back. In the last year alone, the Center has managed to help hundreds of children, host a major casino-themed fundraiser and bring in speakers. “Our organization is often referred to as a ‘safe oasis’ and ‘beacon of hope’ for kids in Rochester,” states their website. The center offers kids sports, after-school tutoring and, simply, a safe environment. They’re accepting donations for the next 24 hours on their site.
  • Verona Street Animal Society: It’s almost impossible to walk around the Verona Street Animal Society shelter without wanting to adopt every single animal in there. But if you, like me, don’t have that kind of space (or money), donate what you can instead. The shelter is a great place to pick up a pet, but staff offer plenty of other services that need funding. According to their site, every donation makes a difference. Just $10 can help pay for a microchip, $150 would cover the sterilization of a dog, which the shelter does for almost no cost. And $330 can help the shelter pay for homing a dog there. The Society hopes to raise around $7,000 and  takes in nearly 4,500 animals from the Rochester community” annually.

But don’t stop here! ROC the Day has every cause listed if you want to help further. Joyful Rescues, Honor Flight Rochester and Flower City Arts Center are just three of the many organizations on United Way’s website.

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