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Grundy County organizations get support from Facebook

Published: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 9:43 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 9:47 p.m. CDT
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(Heidi Litchfield – hlitchfield@shawmedia.com)
Saratoga Tower resident Ryan Howe received a check written out to Grundy County Housing Authority on his behalf for $500 to cover rent from New Community Christian Church.

Facebook celebrated its 10-year anniversary with a “Look Back” video that showcased a user’s time spent on Facebook, including their most liked posts and photos.

What it doesn’t show is how social media has evolved in the past 10 years with many businesses and organizations now giving back to their community in return for “Likes” on a business page.

New Community Christian Church in Morris recently ran a post stating if the Grundy County Housing Authority reached 1,000 likes, it would donate one month’s rent for one of the residents who live in Saratoga Tower.

“We heard about a need and saw a way to step in and help out,” Pastor Kevin Yandell said. “We want to motivate others to do the same by setting an example.”

In just a few days, the GCHA’s Facebook page garnered more than 1,000 likes and the church was writing a check.

Because rent is subsidized for people with disabilities and senior citizens at the housing authority, there is no set amount of rent. Each apartment’s rent varies based on the income of the resident(s). So Yandell said the church decided to write the check for $500.

At the February resident council meeting, all residents in attendance placed their names in a container and Ryan Howe won what turned out to be nearly two and a half months rent.

“It will help out a lot, I can save money and keep it for other expenses,” Howe said. “I so appreciate that they helped with the rent.”

Brent Newman, CEO of GCHA, said the average income for a resident at Saratoga Tower is $12,000 a year.

“Paying a month’s rent would help any of them tremendously,” Newman said.

New Community Christian Church learned about using Facebook for giving through one of its members, Jeff Eberhard, owner of EZ Auto Sales in Joliet.

Eberhard, who resides in Morris, has used his business page to give back to charities in both Will and Grundy counties for the past couple of years, typically writing checks for $500 to the charity he’s chosen. With his business page, he encourages “likes” to his page and in return donates to a local charity.

“You do it because there is such a need,” Eberhard said. “Facebook allows you to talk about something and creates an action, I just provide money to their action.”

EZ Auto Sales has provided checks to We Care of Grundy County, Coal City Clothes Closet, Will-Grundy Center for Independent Living, Grundy County Housing Authority, YMCA, and many other organizations servicing Grundy County.

“It’s very nice to get funds through Facebook,” said Denise Gaska, executive director of We Care. “It doesn’t cost us anything to raise the funds, and I like to see the money go to needs versus administrative costs of running a fund raiser.”

Gaska said the organization has received funds from several local businesses that have run a “Like us on Facebook” campaign on their Facebook pages.

“Carpetile was the first store, but they’ve been followed by several others, Ritchey Orthodontics, Influence Salon, All Occasion Photo Booths, Underground Hair and Nails,” Gaska said. “In every case they approached us.”

She said her job in the fundraising is as simple as sharing a post on the We Care Facebook page and her personal page, and encouraging others to share it as well.

Pam Simpson, owner of All Occasion Photo Booth and Video in Morris, said she got the idea from a friend out of state.

“My friend does a lot for the community in her area and I think everything We Care does helps our community so much,” Simpson said. “It took less than a week to get the likes, it wasn’t very long.”

We Care also uses Facebook to help them sell its their 50/50 raffle tickets for Morris Cruise Night.

“It’s made Cruise Night more successful as a way to raise funds,” Gaska said. “We can generate a lot of buzz and post daily what the pot is up to.”

For Kevin Brown, owner of Brown Bear Painting Inc., it was a great way to get his name out in the community.

He recently ran a “Like Us on Facebook” promotion that netted the Morris Kiwanis $50.

“I thought it was a great way to get others to like us as well as give back to the community,” Brown said. “I’m involved and give a lot to Habitat for Humanity, and this allowed me to help another organization financially.”

He said he chose Kiwanis because they give to children around the world and it helps people affected differently than those who benefit from Habitat for Humanity.

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