Valley of the Sun United Way has long had an active Gifts-in-Kind (GIK) program, where donated materials have been collected and distributed across a network of nonprofit partners, schools and organizations. Before the pandemic, the flow of goods coming and going was ongoing and easily manageable, but nothing could have prepared us for the vast amount of donations requested and received in response to COVID-19 and the impact on our community.
“Gifts-In-Kind requests coming in pre-Covid were here and there. We had plenty of planning time, and everything was easy to manage. The volume in 2020 was nothing like we ever experienced before! There is no lull in the demand and needs out in our community, and it’s really put an exclamation point on the need of our partners.” – Twyla Marcrum | Vice President Donor Engagement and Analytics
The pandemic opened the flood gates with urgent needs as all our partner schools and organizations have been looking to fill the gaps in the unexpected scenarios they found themselves in. There are requests around every corner. There are needs for coveted items like toilet paper and disinfectants, and there are also things we typically wouldn’t think about—like evaporative coolers, one of which went out during the heat of the summer at one of our partner’s locations. Many different necessities have surprised us, like the need for mattresses and sofa sleepers for nonprofit partners serving individuals and families transitioning from being homeless/escaping domestic violence and many looking for temporary housing.
1. We are approached by a corporate or community partner saying they have items to donate, and we find nonprofit or school partners that could benefit from the donated goods.
2. We receive a request from a nonprofit or school partner in need of items, and we reach out to our corporate/business partners to solicit and collect that donation.
- Snacks/food to help families and individuals unaware of where their next meal was coming from
- Books/toys to help kids keep their morale up while quarantined
- Electronic devices for kids attending school from home – thanks to the Phoenix Chamber of Commerce Community Laptop Drive for Education we were able to assist them in delivering laptops to school districts every month. Almost 2,000 laptops were distributed through this program!
- Heat Relief Kits – it was important to assist those on the streets unable to shelter in place to be protected from the brutal temperatures.
- Bottled Water – thanks to our Women United water bottle drive, along with corporate donations, we were able to help people quench their thirst. Over 50,000 bottled water was distributed to schools and nonprofit partners.
- Masks/Face Shields/Gloves/Gowns – when there was a shortage of masks available, our Women United group did their own fundraising for cloth masks through a digital event raising $6,250. These masks went to schools and nonprofit partners.
- Classroom supplies for school partners – there was a heightened demand for large quantity items because kids couldn’t share supplies in fear of spreading Covid-19 in the classroom.
- Hygiene Kits – utilized in schools, essential workplaces, and other nonprofit partners serving the community.
“Tolleson Elementary School District is beyond grateful for the support Valley of the Sun United Way has provided to our community. It has been so impactful from grants to provide basic needs to our families to technology so they can be successful in their G.E.D. and English as a second language classes. Thank you, United Way for being true to your mission!” – Dr. Lupita Ley Hightower | Superintendent/Treasure Hunter | Tolleson Elementary School District
Thankfully, we have a partnership with Phoenix Toolbank through our volunteer engagement program. Their primary mission is to loan out tools at a discounted price for on-site volunteer projects for nonprofits. Since we aren’t doing any volunteer engagement on-site due to safety precautions brought about by COVID – the Toolbank quickly pivoted their resources for the community. At that same time, we started to receive high volumes of donations and we didn’t have a warehouse to store in. The partnership between our two organizations is a match made in heaven. We could be the arm where we seek donations from partners, and then donations coming in went directly to Phoenix Toolbank to be distributed with help from Stardust Building Supplies. They moved thousands of pallets of donated items to maximize space for additional donations coming in. Thanks to Phoenix Toolbank helping with PPE dissemination, and Stardust distributing all other donated items, this resulted in the circulation of over $740,000 value of donated goods to the community!
Despite a recent shift towards seasonal requests, we never took our eyes off collecting and distributing PPE. To date, over 2 million units of PPE have been given to over 600 partners in the Valley.
Take a look at recent news coverage from ABC15 highlighting the great work of Phoenix Toolbank HERE.
We are very grateful for Phoenix Toolbank, because even though they are primarily focused on distributing PPE, they are also willing to house all incoming donated goods for us. Stardust Building Supplies has also been wonderful about storing our donations, and—if we aren’t able to make the delivery ourselves, Stardust Building Supplies distributes to our nonprofit and school partners for us. Stardust’s staff and volunteers provide quality reclaimed materials for reuse such as building and office supplies and provide other needed resources such as diapers, toilet paper, household items, and hygiene supplies received from local retailers. Presently, distribution events are hosted Tuesday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. During this time representatives from eligible organizations are given 20 minutes to shop in the distribution center for items that meet their clients’ needs. Since its inception in July 2012, the Stardust Building Supply Gifts In Kind program has distributed over $49,800,000 in products to 400 agencies in Maricopa County.
Stardust Building Supply’s Gift-in-Kind (GIK) program continues to help 501c3 agencies by allowing them to schedule an appointment and shop at the ‘GIK Store’. While agencies could go pick up large quantities of items, our team has done a majority of our GIK distribution, having completed 300+ pickups and drop-offs over 10 months.
“It’s been tough to speak to exhausted teachers when I make the drop-offs. Many school teachers around the Valley said how much they miss their students and are having a tough time with distance learning. One teacher mentioned how it broke her heart knowing libraries were closed and families without internet had to log in for class at McDonald's to do school work. However, a great memory I have was when I was delivering laptops to James Rice Elementary and they called me the COVID Santa – that was really fulfilling.” – Jarred | Volunteer Engagement and Gift-in-Kind Specialist
With an in-kind donation, you can quickly provide support to areas of the highest need in our community. To view some items our nonprofit and school partners are in need of click HERE.
For information and drop-off coordination, please contact: Twyla Marcrum at firstname.lastname@example.org