On the annual East Texas Giving Day event, donors gifted more than $2.7 million to area nonprofits, with Lamar County seeing part of the helping hand.

“I am encouraged and humbled by the way this community serves one another and shows up for one another, and it was very obvious with the way PJC was supported during giving day,” said Baleigh McCoin, Paris Junior College Director of Institutional Advancement and Alumni Affairs. “A big, sincere thank you to everyone who donated.”

Seven Lamar organizations participated and raised $44,918 for local foundations through 156 donations on Tuesday, many with matching funds. The organizations were PJC Memorial Foundation, Northeast Texas Trail Coalition, CitySquare Paris, St. Joseph’s Community Foundation, United Way of Lamar County, Tailored Rides Equine Assisted Therapy Inc and the The Wesley Center at PJC.

“It was a major success for the organization,” Tailored Rides owner Taylor Sandoval said. “We received contributions from our established donors and some new ones as well! Beyond reaching our monetary goal, we received 20 hours of volunteer service which will be a huge help. We are thrilled to see how many folks in the community donated to the event.”

Overall, the annual East Texas Giving Day tradition had 5,838 donors and helped 256 participating charities in 32 East Texas counties.

“East Texas residents stepped up at this unprecedented time,” said Kyle Penney, president of East Texas Communities Foundation, which hosts the online event. “Nonprofit organizations spent countless hours getting the word out about the needs facing our region. Donors across East Texas responded generously to meet the call. It’s a community effort we can all be proud of.”

Many of the charities also had matching donor grants. In Lamar County, PJC and Tailored Rides each met their matching funds goals. The college’s matching grant donor will contact the college soon about the matching funds, McCoin said.

“We met our goal, and we went above and beyond,” she said.

Though it didn’t quite meet its goal of $1,000, United Way of Lamar County still got their matching grant from Atmos Energy, for a total of $1,789.

“We are so extremely grateful to everyone who donated to the United Way of Lamar County during East Texas Giving Day,” United Way Director Jenny Wilson said. “We are especially thankful for the continued support of our corporate partner Atmos Energy who donated $1,000. All funds raised will benefit our rent and utility assistance programs.”

The college’s goal was $12,500 this year. Last year, it managed to raise $8,000 and an anonymous donor sent them $12,000, giving them a total of $20,000. This year, it raised $15,971. She has received word that the matching donor has decided to double the original contribution and give the college $10,000, McCoin said, bringing the total to $31,942. 

"We cannot express enough our sincere appreciation to the matching donor who has been a longtime partner to PJC," she said. "This also would not have been possible without everyone who contributed to PJC on Giving Day. We are making history and changing the future for our students."

The Northeast Texas Trail Coalition raised $9,300, while CitySquare Paris raised $5,668. St. Joseph’s Community Foundation raised $4,846, Tailored Rides raised $1,589 and The Wesley Center raised $755.

Kim Cox is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6965 or at kim.cox@theparisnews.com.

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