Saratoga is known far and wide for its horses, for jazz, for its beautifully preserved downtown. Then there’s all the cultural institutions, the Skidmore College Campus, and a wide variety of well-kept parks and recreation. All that and more is true. But at its core, Saratoga has a compassionate and generous heart.
When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast in 2005, Mark Bertrand wanted to help. He sent out an email to people in his circle, asking them to do two things: donate a gift or a gift card suitable for a child and to pass on the email to their circle. That email went viral, the response came from all over the country, and Operation Cajun Christmas had gifts for 8,000 children.
That power of community inspired Mark to found The Giving Circle, a 100 percent volunteer non-profit organization based right here in Saratoga Springs. They have worked on many local projects – rebuilding after flooding, partnering with Code Blue and the Franklin Street Food Pantry. They also are involved in many projects in Africa and support a high school in Afghanistan. Looking through their website is bittersweet – awe inspiring for the help that is given, heartbreaking that there is so much need.
With Hurricane Harvey having hit Texas and Irma poised to slam Florida, The Giving Circle mobilized to send aid to both locations, calling the operation #WeGive2Trucks supply drive. There are a lot of moving parts to organize an event of this scope. Bo Goliber of Fingerpaint Marketing, Deputy Mayor Meg Kelly, and Robin Dalton quickly worked out a media strategy and a functional one, with three days for collecting donations of goods.
Frank Parillo donated warehouse space on Excelsior Avenue, Trans Border Global Freight Systems donated two huge trucks, Stewarts Shops and DA Collins donated pallets. A list of needs was circulated and the Gideon Putnam, Bonacio Construction, Teakwood Builders, Roohan Realty, SGS Group, Century Linen and Uniform Healthcare Laundry swiftly and generously responded, as did the general public. Both trucks are filled to capacity and ready to go.
It’s not too late to participate. Gift Cards are given directly to families in need. You can donate $25 to $50 gift cards from Target, Home Depot and Walmart and mail them to The Giving Circle, PO Box 3162, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
For more information on The Giving Circle, visit www.thegivingcircle.org.