HOUGHTON, Mich. (WJMN) – The Portage Lake District Library and Portage Health Foundation worked together to give money to nonprofit organizations in the Copper Country.

Dillon Geshel, library director, says they fundraised during their reading program this year.

“We called that reading program read for relief this year and that program set out to engage students, children and families in reading all summer long while also partnering with the Portage Health Foundation to help our nonprofit community bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Geshel.

Geshel says they received a challenge grant from PHF, the library raised money for their own costs and PHF matched what they raised to distribute to the other community organizations.

“The Portage Health Foundation offered us with a challenge grant, so we were challenged to raise money for the library which would help us with some of the costs that we anticipated seeing lost due to the pandemic,” said Geshel. “And the Portage Health Foundation offered to match what we raised and distribute to three selected nonprofits.”

The matched funding was distributed to Dial Help, Keweenaw Family Resource Center and U.P. Kids. Each organization received $1,604. Kevin Store, executive director of Portage Health Foundation, says when Geshel approached them with the concept of partnering it was met with excitement.

“I want to give some credit to Dillon, it was a really interesting idea when he reached out to us with the concept of a way that the library could help some other nonprofits in our community and at the same time promoting literacy with our young people and people within our community and one of the things we liked about I guess the marriage of promoting literacy and also helping our nonprofits,” said Store. “It helped our mission in terms of how are we promoting the whole notion of philanthropy to an up and coming generation.”

Library patrons logged 7,603 reading hours, and contributed $4,812 to the Portage Lake District Library and Hancock School Public Library. Store says they matched that amount and gave some extra to help with prizes for the top readers.

“Dillon was able to raise about $4,800 in contributions to the library that we matched so we ended up with three organizations that ended up with $1,604 and then we added an extra $1,000 to that to help with some prizes to award the top readers,” said Store.

Geshel says they raised the money by putting out fundraising calls in their newsletter and talking to their donors individually.

“We put out fundraising calls through out email newsletter as well as just speaking with some of our donors individually, letting people know about the campaign and the reading program at the library to,” said Geshel.

Store says collaboration like this for community organizations is important in small communities because organizations have limited resources. He says in times like this, they are continually seeing an increasing need and increasing cost that is disproportionate to the type of financial resources available.

“And so when I look at this and I consider this, the importance of collaboration is not only collaboration in the spirit of you know discussing an issue and finding workable solutions but it’s also scaling the limits of resources that we have to find those and implement those solutions,” said Store.