Celebrate #GivingTuesday by paying it forward

Posted at 5:21 AM, Dec 02, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-03 06:24:05-05

GRAND RAPID, Mich.-- There are specific days for giving thanks and even getting deals, but there is also a day aimed at paying it forward.

Tuesday, December 2nd is designated#GivingTuesday. It's a day for people to support causes and organizations to better their community and those halfway around the world.

The global movement is done mostly through social media on a crowdfunding site, which is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising monetary contributions from a large number of people, typically via the internet.

#GivingTuesday lists hundreds of campaigns, ranging from education, small business and art, to name a few.

More locally, one organization says community support is the only way they can keep helping children who’ve experienced the loss of a parent: Ele’s Place in Grand Rapids.

"The US census says one out of 20 kids will have a significant loss of death in their life of a parent by the time they are 18," explained Gerilyn May, Managing Director of Ele's Place.

"So that’s equates to about 15,000 kids in Kent and Ottawa county alone. There are kids grieving.”

Ele’s Place relies entirely on philanthropic support. The money funds peer programs for kids, even adults, such as Adam Starr, a father of three who lost the love of his life.

"Four years ago, we had an unexpected illness and sudden death of my wife Mary. She passed away Christmas Eve 2010 and it was a huge devastation to my family.”

Starr says his children Max, Ian and Lily dealt with the unimaginable loss in many ways.

Two and a half years later, Ele’s Place has made a world of difference for his family.

"It didn’t cost my family a dime. We were able to go and attend for free because people supported us," explained Starr.

"My children are different people now in a positive way without the great support of Ele's place.”

There are a number of organizations in West Michigan hoping to inspire those into donating to their cause: Gilda's Club, Michigan Blood, The Boys and Girls Club of Grand Rapids, The Conductive Learning Center andEle's Place.