By Lauren Zaepfel
Donations were presented Tuesday to more than 40 community and charitable organizations at the Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls USA for the annual "Give Fashionably" program, sponsored by the Town of Niagara and the mall.
In total, $50,000 was given in donations to various local groups.
"This is really about giving back to those of you who work tirelessly for our community," Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace said.
"We appreciate all of the good works you do in the Town of Niagara as well as in our neighboring communities," said John Doran, senior manager of Macerich's Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls. "We are fortunate to have you supporting our community and we are lucky to be doing business in the Town of Niagara and to be able to partner with them in this charitable event."
The annual giveaway program originated as part of the host agreement between the town and the mall. Since the program's inception nearly two decades ago, approximately $1 million has been donated to community organizations.
Town of Niagara Industrial Development Agency CFO and Treasurer Patrick Brown, Wallace and Doran, as a committee, send out applications to community service and charitable organizations. Submitted applications are then reviewed and recipients are selected based on a number of criteria, including how they contribute to residents and/or businesses in the community.
Some of this year's recipients include the Kiwanis Club of Niagara-Wheatfield, Niagara Hospice, HART Interfaith, the Capital Cleaners' "Coats for Kids" fundraising campaign, Community Missions of Niagara Frontier, Opportunities of Unlimited of Niagara and Empower.
"It's huge for us to receive this from the town," said Elizabeth Cardamone, director of communication and development at Empower. "We so appreciate it. We work with individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and this enables us to create more programs to help them improve their lives, so we really appreciate it."
Elaine Duquette, associate executive director at Opportunities Unlimited, said, "Receiving the donation actually is of great need for us because we are Medicaid funded primarily, so we have a 2 percent or so gap to fill through fundraising and donations. This will help us bridge that gap ... and help our programs and services for the individuals we support."
Walt Stevenson of Foreign Wars Lake Ontario Post 313 in Youngstown, also a recipient, thanked both Wallace and Doran for their contributions. He said, "The gift that we received last year, for the post, it replaced a furnace that was 26 years old, and an air conditioning system, which we could not afford. ... It was costing us a ton of money to run and a ton of money to fix every year."
He added, "Thank you for your corporate and your local contributions to all of us. We need the money. We can't do it without you."
As he concluded the ceremony, Wallace said, "We thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for everything you do. ... This is our way of giving back to you."
Recipients hold up their donations after the "Give Fashionably" presentation. From left, are John Doran, senior manager of Macerich's Fashion Outlets of Niagara Falls; Elaine Duquette, associate executive director at Opportunities Unlimited; Town of Niagara Supervisor Lee S. Wallace and Elizabeth Cardamone, director of communication and development at Empower.