“Giving Tuesday” might be seen as a counterweight to last week’s Black Friday and today’s Cyber Monday holiday season spend-a-thons.
In Billings, nonprofit groups including BikeNet and the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming are embracing Giving Tuesday, a movement that began in 2012 to channel holiday generosity into doing good in the community. People participate in the movement via social media under the hashtag #GivingTuesday.
According to the group’s website, Giving Tuesday kicks off for Montana and Wyoming Girl Scouts on Tuesday and runs through New Year’s Eve. Giving to the ThinkGirl program is available at http://gsmw.org/thinkgirl or through the mail at GSMW Giving Tuesday, 2303 Grand Ave., Billings, MT 59102.
That program benefits the one in three Montana or Wyoming girls who need financial help to join the Girl Scouts.
Andrea Kenney, chief development officer for the Girl Scouts of Montana and Wyoming, said she first learned of Giving Tuesday about six months ago. “The whole idea of a giving opportunity as a way to give back to the community really appealed to me,” she said. “Why not help our donors participate in a program that helps the community?”
Throughout the two states, the Girl Scouts serves 8,000 girls. The organization counts on about 2,000 volunteers in Montana and Wyoming.
A number of faith groups nationally are encouraging members to participate in Giving Tuesday, and some local groups are joining in, too.
BikeNet, an organization that works to expand Billings’ trail system, is partnering with Yellowstone Fitness to use Giving Tuesday to help those who use pedal-power — scooters and wheelchairs count, too — to get around town easier. Yellowstone Fitness owner Don Christensen will match donations of $100 up to a total of $500, said Kristi Drake, BikeNet’s executive director.
“We share a similar mission with BikeNet and believe in the overall health and wellness of our community,” Christensen said in a news release.
Just before she was about to hop on her own bicycle to complete some holiday shopping Friday, Drake said her organization could spend the money raised on Giving Tuesday on any number of projects. BikeNet is looking at some long-term trail projects, including plans to improve Highway 3 between the airport roundabout and Indian Hills, as well as the city’s proposed trail between ZooMontana and Riverfront Park. Each of those projects is in the $1 million range; both are currently being studied.
Or, Drake said, BikeNet might be partnering with the Billings Department of Public Works as crews take on planned street projects next year.
“(Public Works Director) Dave Mumford asked us to keep our ear to the ground on small trail segments we can help with in conjunction with their road projects,” Drake said. “If we can say, ‘This connection needs to be made,’ they can tuck it into their project.”
In addition to the group’s expertise, “If needed, we will contribute,” Drake said.
An expanded trail system will benefit Billings residents of all ages, Drake said — from people in wheelchairs to youngsters on their tricycles or those slightly older children learning to ride a two-wheeler, “and everyone in between.”
“I think (Giving Tuesday) is a great time to think about giving to everyone, and BikeNet does that,” she said. “We give to everybody by putting trails out there. There’s not a single person who can’t use a nice surface without a lot of bumps and rocks and uneven places.”