By ANDREW WELLNER
MAT-SU — Nearly $168,000 was diverted from generous Alaskans’ Permanent Fund Dividend checks and into coffers of their selected Valley non-profits this year.
More specifically, 3,450 donors pledged $167,725 to 37 charities.
“Once again the Valley residents are showing their generosity of spirit in giving to the causes they care about, “ said Heather Beaty, program manager for Pick. Click. Give. “Growth is up about 50 percent.”
Topping the list for Valley charities was Alaska Dog and Puppy Rescue, a perennial favorite for charitable giving from permanent fund checks. The group took in $65,100.
At the very bottom, the least amount received — $275 to Mat-Su College.
Second highest was Alaska Assistance Dogs, which brought in $14,400 to help train animals to serve the disabled.
Third, with $12,500, was Wasilla Food Pantry, which, like many food banks in the state and nation, is struggling to keep up with demand.
Rounding out the top five were the Children’s Place with $6,125, Palmer Senior Citizens Center Inc. with $5,200,
In sixth was CCS Early Learning with $4,925.
“We’re up to 111 donations and just shy of $5,000,” CCS’s executive director, Mark Lackey said, adding that it’s more than CCS got last year and is a huge help considering the way that the organization is funded.
“We’re primarily operated off of federal grants but they’ll only give us 80 percent of what we need,” he said. “That’s in place to demonstrate that there’s local support for the services we’re providing.”
That 20 percent local money comes in a variety of ways — state grants, United Way grants — but $5,000 is big help in meeting that commitment.
CCS provides Head Start and Early Head Start education to pre-school children as young as 3 years old, and most students come from lower-income families.
“A lot of those 111 donations that we got this year came from a family who we are providing services to,” Lackey said. “To them that $50 is a significant amount of money that they are choosing to give back.”
Jordan Marshall, spokesman for the Rasmuson Foundation, which oversees Pick. Click. Give., said that the Valley has actually proven itself to be a leader in customizing the program.
“We’ve only just finished the program’s fourth year and in the program’s second year they had already created a Valley Pick Click Give Facebook page,” Marshall said. “It’s a metaphor for how folks in the Valley are naturally wiling to work together to take on issues and solve problems.”
Contact reporter Andrew Wellner at firstname.lastname@example.org or 352-2270.