CASP seeks donations through AmazonSmile

August 23, 2018

Recent federal budget cuts left the Columbus After School Program looking for funding alternatives to sustain its student activities.

“We are a federal-funded program for the last 15 years,” said Lori Marking, assistant program director for Columbus After School Program, which is housed inside the Nebraska Extension- Platte County office at 2715 13th St. in Columbus. “So we are on a new five-year grant cycle and we are facing our first financial cut with that federal grant so we are looking for different options to help support the program.”

In partnership with Columbus Public Schools, the Columbus After School Program has been providing after-school activities for approximately 600 students within the Columbus Public Schools district for several years.

Marking said roughly 11.3 million students nationwide with two working parent are left unsupervised between 3-6 p.m., which are hours after school ends and before parents typically return home from work. The program helps these students be involved in productive activities that could increase their academic, social and physical skills.

Since the budget cuts, CASP staff found various outlets for funding, such as AmazonSmile and Thrivent Financial.

AmazonSmile is a website operated by Amazon with the same products, prices, and shopping features as Amazon.com. The difference is that when one shops on AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5 percent of the purchase price of eligible products to the charitable organization of the buyer’s choice. CASP, an eligible organization, has been gathering funding from AmazonSmile since early summer.

“There are nonprofits all over that are registered for it too,” said Stacey Whiting, program director for Columbus After School Program.

Whiting noted the funds are distributed every four months by AmazonSmile and each organization has to gather at least $5 in donations to receive a check. She said CASP has yet to receive sufficient donations through AmazonSmile but is still optimistic on the generosity of the community.

Whiting said she also signed CASP with Thrivent Financial for its members to showcase their support.

The funding will go toward sustaining the organization’s operations and purchase supplies for its Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)-related activities, recreational games, computer labs, as well as workshops where students learn how to cook, build and craft. Students enrolled in the program also tend to the community garden at the Habitat For Humanity of Columbus’s New Hope housing edition at 45th Avenue.

“At this point, I think any amount helps,” Marking said. “We have cooking programs where you have to buy groceries and so that all cost. Anytime we want to do arts and craft, that’s money (where the donations) would help with those supplies.”

Both Whiting and Marking are working toward establishing relationships with area businesses, starting with a fundraiser at Wendy’s from 5-8 p.m. on Sept. 20. A certain percentage of proceeds collected during that time frame go toward the program.

“Community support is always helpful,” Marking said.

Those wanting to donate to CASP through AmazonSmile are encouraged to visit https://smile.amazon.com/ and select Columbus After School Program.

Natasya Ong is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at natasya.ong@lee.net.

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