24 hours of giving makes ‘Big’ difference in ET

Betsy PickleOur Town Neighbors, South Knox

We’ve all grown accustomed to (or even enthusiastic about) the shopping “holidays” that follow Thanksgiving – Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday.  But once Tuesday comes and we’re ready to take a break from consumerism, Giving Tuesday is the perfect time to say thanks again, this time to nonprofits that serve their community in often unnoticed ways.

Around here, more than 130 nonprofits are participating in Big Give Knox 2022, an online fundraiser that started at midnight and runs through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday. Potential donors can visit the website and read about the different nonprofits and their work. Plus, they can learn about special hours of giving that can earn extra funds for their favorites.

The groups focus on everything from protecting children or small fish to preserving historic mansions and cultural heritage. Your donations can make a difference literally from A (Appalachian Mountain Bike Club) to Z (Zoo Knoxville).

One of the agencies, Spark, based in South Knoxville, looks for new, innovative and creative ways to find solutions to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities. Every December, Spark has an adapted-toy giveaway – Toy Tech – for kids of all ages. These toys are switch adapted, which helps kids easily operate the toys that sing, talk, light up, dance or spin by lightly touching a handmade button.

Spark (formerly East Tennessee Technology Access Center) partners with Knox Makers to create these switches. Spark adapts 100 toys a year to give away to families in East Tennessee.

In addition to Toy Tech (Dec. 13 this year), Spark has a toy lending library, providing families with a selection of toys to borrow for developmental learning through play. Local therapists also utilize the library, so keeping the latest toys available is important to their clients and families.

Aside from toys, Spark also has durable medical equipment for families to borrow, including pediatric equipment such as gait trainers, adapted strollers and standers. These items are costly, and insurance usually only covers one piece, so having these items available for growing children is a wonderful asset to the families that need them.

Spark is one of dozens of organizations in our area worthy of your generosity throughout today at Big Give Knox, which is presented by First Horizon. Visit the website, and you’re sure to find a nonprofit group that touches your heart and needs your help.

Betsy Pickle is a veteran reporter and editor who works part-time at Spark.

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