HIGH POINT — Local nonprofits lost millions because of COVID-19 in 2020, even as they attempted to serve more needs.
United Way of Greater High Point President Jane Liebscher recently asked its 27 partner agencies to tally their losses from fundraisers that could not be held. The combined totals from eight of the nine nonprofit agencies that responded was more than $1 million.
While the YMCA of High Point did not provide fundraising losses, its leaders told Liebscher membership dropped by more than 60% over the course of 30 days after COVID-19 hit in March. YMCA summer camps also were canceled, and the YMCA expects to finish 2020 with an operating loss of $2 million, Liebscher said.
“This is a huge chunk out of these agencies’ budgets,” Liebscher said. “So many of these have tried to go to virtual events, but it’s just difficult.”
The canceled fundraisers include such well-known events as the Community Clinic of High Point’s Puttin’ on the Grits, which was projected to raise $80,000 for 2020, and its annual Last Chance for White Pants fundraiser, projected for about $5,000 more.
“I can’t say that I was surprised,” Liebscher said, noting she knew how much these agencies rely on special event fundraisers. “I just think it reiterates our mission at the United Way to strive to raise as many dollars as possible in the community for these agencies. At the same time, so many of them have seen an influx in clients needing assistance. It’s a bad situation all the way around.”
Other losses can’t be measured in terms of dollars, Liebscher said.
“Big Brother Big Sisters’ Bigs and Littles inability to meet face-to-face has left a void for so many children who depend on these positive relationships,” she said.
Communities in Schools of Randolph County volunteers have not been allowed in the schools since the pandemic hit in March. In 2019, it had 150 mentors serving 295 students, Liebscher said.
“How will these nearly 300 students get the extra help they need to succeed?,” Liebscher said. “These are just two examples of how COVID is impacting lives in our community.”
While the United Way’s fundraising efforts were challenged because it was not able to meet face-to-face with donors in most companies, its annual “CANpaign” food drive was a success. Many people responded by placing Amazon orders for food donations to be delivered to the United Way office, where the staff separated cans and nonperishable food items to deliver to food banks across the community.
Marsh Furniture was one local company that allowed the United Way to meet with employees while observing COVID-19 protocols, as was Mickey Truck Bodies. Old Dominion Freight Lines’ leaders recognized they were going to be down in employee giving but stepped up to donate an additional $35,000, which was matched dollar for dollar by a member of the Old Dominion Board of Directors.
“Understandably, a lot of the companies’ employees are nervous,” Liebscher said. “Some of them have had spouses laid off, or maybe they’ve had furloughs at their organizations and they are nervous about what’s to come. I would like to think 2020 was a bad dream and we never have to see another mask again, but that is not going to happen.”
While companies like Thomas Built Buses feel the direct impact of school closings, no industry or organization has been immune from COVID’s economic impact, she said.
“For some people, COVID has just been a real nuisance, but for others it truly has been life-altering in terms of health but also an economic impact,” Liebscher said. “It’s going to take years for the community to recover from the economic setback.”
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HIGH POINT — The latest donations have been received for the 2020 Christmas Cheer Fund totaling $1,080.
Today’s donors are:
In Loving Memory of my wife, Helen J. Doby, my brother Jerry J. Doby, and Marie and Melanie’s mother, Polly B. Doby by Maxie Doby $100
In Memory of my Daughter Angela, who was born on Christmas Day, 1961 and lived a joyful life with Downs Syndrome until she went to be with Jesus 2 years ago by her Mother $25
In Memory of Major Gen. John B. Gordon by Roseneath Farms LLC $25
In Honor of Jeffrey Rosner by Lekita, Martha and Benji $50
In Honor of John & Linda Russell and Bobby Ritchie and In Memory of Joyce Ritchie by Bobby and Janet Ritchie $100
In Memory of Doris & Carter Lassiter by The Employees of City Transfer and Storage Co. $100
In Memory of Dr. Bill Anderson by Dr. John and Louise Campbell $100
In Loving Memory of Walt McCraw by Gaye and Dan Outlaw $100
In Memory of Johnny Siler and Don Livengood by Dewey and Doris Livengood $30
Jane Gill-Shaler $100
Wiley Clary Jr. $100
In Honor of my wife, Erin by Richard Sanders $50
In Honor of Kelly, David, Griffin Entsminger and Dan Tucker by Jerry and Kay Tucker $50
In Loving Memory of Roxie Hinson and Beatrice Shaver by Alfred L. Hinson, Pauline B. Hinson and Edna Hinson Dye $50
In Loving Memory of Thomas J. Bynum and wife Nora B. Bynum and Nora Yvonne Bynum by Pauline Bynum Hinson and Alfred L. Hinson $50
Billy and Susan Koontz $50
Today’s total $1,080
Previous total $35,206
Grand total $36,286
Donations should be made out to the Christmas Cheer Fund and mailed to P.O. Box 5467, High Point, NC 27262. Lists of donors will continue to be published in The Enterprise through this week, with a final listing being published Sunday, Jan. 10. The fund, operated by the Kiwanis Club of High Point, this year provided Christmas gifts for about 150 underserved children identified through the Boys and Girls Clubs of High Point.
HIGH POINT — What would you do if you saw a lion, the ferocious king of the jungle, prowling through your backyard?
Because, let’s be honest — we don’t get a lot of lions in these parts, you know. Oh sure, the occasional bear will wander down from the mountains and find himself in our neck of the woods, scrounging through trash cans and such looking for food. But a lion? Nah … not unless he somehow escaped from the North Carolina Zoo.
In June 1967, though — when Dewey Davenport actually reported seeing a lion in his garden one evening — there was no North Carolina Zoo. So Davenport, who lived in High Point’s Deep River community, not far from Deep River Friends Meeting, called the sheriff’s department to report what he’d seen. And, he added, other people in the neighborhood had seen the lion, too.
Pity the poor deputy on phone duty that night, who probably wondered whether Davenport had had a few too many drinks and was somehow confusing the Deep River with, you know, the Congo River. And give the deputy props for not being a total smart-aleck during the conversation — although we suspect there may have been a generous amount of eye-rolling going on.
Here’s that awkward conversation, according to an account in The High Point Enterprise:
“What did it look like?” the deputy asked.
“A lion,” Davenport replied.
“Sure it wasn’t a big dog?”
“It was a lion.”
Davenport clearly didn’t care for the deputy’s skepticism.
“What color was it?” the deputy continued.
According to Davenport, he had seen the lion on another occasion, sniffing around a garbage can late at night. And if Davenport happened to see the creature again, he promised, he would shoot it.
“In Africa and in the Deep River area,” The Enterprise reported with tongue in cheek, “people frequently see lions. It is not as frequent in Deep River, but on several occasions lately, an animal that certainly looks like a lion has been viewed by residents of the area.”
Hoping to nip any lion-fueled hysteria in the bud, sheriff’s deputies scoured the Deep River community for the lion — or, at the very least, evidence a lion had been there — but all they found were tracks in Davenport’s garden that could’ve been left by any number of animals.
Undaunted by their lack of success — and knowing a good story when he heard one — the Enterprise news editor sent intrepid photographer Art Richardson on a Deep River safari, with explicit instructions not to come back without a photo of the fierce lion.
Richardson, a veteran photojournalist who had covered everything from racial unrest to UFOs in his career — and who had even been shot in the back covering a 1963 race riot — went lion-hunting. Not wanting to disappoint his editor, he came back not only with photos, but with a lion sighting of his own.
“I stopped by this house to ask some questions, when what should come bounding out the front door but a lion,” Richardson wrote in the next day’s Enterprise. “At least, I thought it was a lion — or maybe he thought he was a lion. Well, anyway, he looked like a lion.”
The lady of the house appeared a moment later and sent the lion back inside.
“She assured me that he wasn’t ferocious and that he wasn’t a lion,” Richardson wrote. “I had to ask her to repeat this statement, as I had trouble hearing her from inside the car and through my vent window.”
The creature came back outside and headed straight for Richardson, wagging its tail.
“I figured either he was being friendly, or he was getting hungry looking at me,” the photographer wrote. “I leaned more toward the latter.”
As you can see from his photos, Richardson had found the mighty king of the Deep River jungle … and it was, contrary to what Dewey Davenport and others believed, a dog. In all fairness, though, Rusty — a beloved member of High Point’s Godman family — wasn’t just any ol’ dog, but a large dog with a mane and tail that made him look rather lionesque.
But no, for the record, he wasn’t actually a lion. And that’s a revelation that probably disappointed Dewey Davenport, but left a certain sheriff’s deputy, um, roaring with laughter.