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New site puts individual faces on charitable giving

Doug has had some trouble with the law but has turned his life around, and is hoping to move from an internship at the CTA to a permanent position.  He’s incredibly proud of his children, including a son who’s a straight-A honor roll student in his first year of high school and a younger daughter who is starting to blossom.

“They’re the most important thing to me, and I really want them to have the best out of life,” he says in a video at Benevolent.net, a new philanthropic social networking site.

If he could have anything, it would be a computer so his kids could do their homework at home and not have to “shift from home to home and library to library,” he says.

After his story was posted– along with an endorsement from an individual development specialist at the Cara program, where he’s a student – twelve Benevolent.net followers kicked in amounts ranging from $20 to $220 and raised the money he needed for the computer.

Small donors have responded to requests for a bed, for CTA passes, and for job training fees.  Current posts at Benevolent.net include several requests for help getting dental work done, along with a seamstress who needs a sewing machine.

The one-time needs they request help with are typical of the small hurdles that can block progress toward stability and success for low-income people, said Michele Larimer.

Requests come via partner agencies, which include Cara, Bethel New Life, Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, and Family Focus.  Each request is validated in a statement and short video from a staffer at a partner agency, in addition to a video of the individual making the request.

The site launched December 1 and the response has been greater than anticipated, Larimer said.  Some families are incorporating it into their holiday giving traditions, she said.

A number of new requests for assistance will be added soon, she said.

 

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