Pre-COVID-19 Community Effort Felt throughout Palm Beach County

Wellington, FL – June 23, 2020 – Every winter, the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center (PBIEC) hosts an event that has a year-long impact for Palm Beach County charities. The Great Charity Challenge presented by Fidelity Investments® (GCC), an exciting show jumping competition that blends equestrian sports and philanthropy, has become a highlight of the 12-week Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF) and has distributed over $14.8 million to 256 local organizations in 11 years.

While the 2020 WEF season ended early due to COVID-19, the benefiting 49 non-profits from this year’s GCC are putting their collective $1.3 million in donations to use following their participation in the event held on February 1, 2020.

“Non-profit organizations have proven to be nimble and have an ‘optimized way’ of stretching the impact of a dollar,” comments Mark Bellissimo. “Seeing how they have responded and adapted through these unprecedented times is inspiring.”

Organizations benefiting from the GCC continue to serve and support the local community’s well-being. Their outreach and dedicated work span many different sectors within the Palm Beach County region, including food assistance, educational support, veteran aid, foster care, senior citizen care, and family support, to name just a few.

With grants awarded to a grand total of 49 local non-profit organizations, ranging from $1,000 to $150,000, a reported 137,937 lives were impacted in Palm Beach County during their first reporting quarter.

“The GCC was started in 2008, following the economic crisis,” said Paige Bellissimo, co-founder of the event. “The initiative came forward as a way to increase funding to local charities at a time where donations were scarce. The impact of COVID-19 on non-profit organizations replicates the situation of 12 years ago; the community’s need for services/goods provided by these organizations has sky-rocketed while many have had to cancel their major fundraising initiatives and are doing their very best to mobilize resources and donations. We are extremely grateful that the event took place before the start of the pandemic and cannot thank our donors enough for their generous support.”

What exactly does $1.3 million at work look like?

Feed the Hungry Pantry of Palm Beach County was able to react quickly to laid-off and hungry neighbors at the onset of COVID-19. “Within the first few days of the pandemic, we went from feeding 3,000+ families per month to 10,000+ families a week,” commented Executive Director Dan Shorter.

The nonprofit also joined forces with the GCC in applying to be featured in its Emergency Giving Guide as well as participated in the #GivingTuesday movement, in partnership with Equestrian Sport Productions. “Thanks to the GCC, we raised an additional $40,000+ from the western community and acquired dedicated donors that are making sure that we can continue to feed people (as well as their pets)!”

For Wellington Cares, a non-profit organization committed to coordinating volunteers of all ages to assist in enabling persons over the age of 65 to remain in their home with the support of the Wellington community residents and local organizations, funding will not only enable them to replicate their successful model in neighboring cities, but it also enabled them to adequately equip their personal and volunteers with required protective items to ensure that they could continue serving the senior communities.

The Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County provided 414 low-income families with their Education Advocacy Project’s Education Toolkit, assisting them in navigating the often complex federal, state and local laws, rules and regulations governing the services and accommodations that public-school children are entitled to be provided with under current laws.

Other organizations such as the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County and the Equestrian Aid Foundation were able to quick establish Emergency Relief Funds through funding received during the GCC.

These are just a few examples of the 49 benefiting organizations. We invite you to access the full fund use report by visiting HERE.

To provide additional support and to highlight the crucial work of local non-profit organizations during COVID-19, the GCC published an Emergency Giving Guide on April 3, 2020 under the leadership of Executive Director Anne Caroline Valtin. The guide featured 83 non-profits serving immediate needs locally. It was utilized and shared broadly throughout Palm Beach County, giving donors a practical and safe way to identify which efforts they wanted to support during these unprecedented times.

The application process for the 2021 GCC will run from October 15 through November 15, 2020. The GCC board and review committee are on an intentional journey to assess, broaden and understand how they can further commit to diversity, equity and inclusion as organizational values. It has been reviewed and approved that this will also become a requirement for local organizations who wish to apply to benefit from the GCC moving forward. Please note that at this time, the GCC is also actively reviewing other ways to battle social and racial inequality.

For additional information about the event, including donation and sponsorship information, please visit www.greatcharitychallenge.com.

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