When Anne McKiterick heard about a new flavor of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, she knew she had to reach out to the Columbus-based company about a potential partnership.
McKiterick is an advancement officer at Ohio Guidestone, a statewide nonprofit that supports people with mental health or substance abuse problems.
The flavor, introduced in May 2020 in the dark early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, was called Sunshine. The ice cream (which was all sold out) was grey, but the fading color hid a flurry of tropical and citrus flavor.
Its founder Jenny Britton said at the time that it was designed to draw attention to mental health issues. The idea was that even when things looked gray, the sun would shine again.
“I was so excited to see that, so I reached out to[Genny]and I was glad they came right back to us,” said McKittrick.
McKitrick initially thought Ohio Guidestone and Jenny could collaborate on a new flavor. After figuring out which flavor could take a year to develop, the ideas turned to a more traditional partnership.
Tuesday was their 10th annual Giving Day, and all of Jenny’s Ohio stores donated 25% of their proceeds to Ohio Gudstone. That added up to $2,014.03 USD.
“Ohio Guidestone has a positive impact on the daily lives of the people around us,” Britton said in a press release. “We are very pleased to support them in their mission to expand mental health services in Ohio.”
The fact that a well-known brand like Jeni’s has chosen to support a mental health organization speaks volumes for raising awareness and support for behavioral health issues as the pandemic approaches two years.
The recent rise in deaths from suicide and drug overdoses illustrates the fact that more people are getting hurt, said Ariane May, director of development at Beria-based Ohio Guidestone.
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This has strained groups that support people who need counseling or other treatments.
“People are struggling and we never had such a need before,” Mai said. “We don’t want anyone out there being brave enough to say they need help to go unaided.”
Michael Currie, executive director of the Franklin County Chamber of Human Services, said he’s “definitely noticed more interest and awareness of mental health and behavioral challenges, and agencies trying to meet those needs.”
Corey, whose group includes about 130 nonprofit organizations, said some of the donations that reach the organizations on Tuesday could be used to support not just the public, but employees in need.
He said that many who work in mental health areas or settings such as food pantries or shelters for the unoccupied or who have been abused have been traumatized by the suffering they saw in the pandemic.
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“Without a doubt, we have been trying to support our members on this front,” Corey said. “It’s a challenge to the workforce, a challenge to the quality of life.
“People think as much as they think about supporting their teams. I use the saying put your own oxygen mask on before you can put a mask on someone else.”
Giving Tuesday began in 2012 and has spread to more than 300 community campaigns nationwide and to more than 80 countries, according to the group’s website.
The site said that in 2020 in the United States alone, the bidding Tuesday brought in more than $2.47 billion.
There is no central accounting for what was raised on Tuesday in Greater Columbus. The Columbus Foundation does not keep a local count, but it does encourage donors to visit its Giving Store that day, which has more than 1,200 organizations in need.
“We’ve seen for a decade that Giving Tuesday has inspired continued generosity,” said Dan Sharp, the foundation’s vice president for community research and grant management. “It’s great to see donors learn about the needs of organizations close to their hearts, but the public is also able to learn about organizations that may be new to them.”
Among the county Department of Human Services groups that reported their total donations on Tuesday, the number one notable was the $480,000 raised by Project Harmony, a choir founded in 2009 focused on community service. According to Chief Operating Officer, Shelley Lewis, this was the largest sum the choir had raised in a campaign.
Ohio Gudstone didn’t raise $480,000, and that’s okay. May said the partnership with Jeni’s kicks off her “Hope for the Holidays” campaign with the goal of raising $25,000.
“I think we’ll get through that number,” she said. Donors often think, ‘I don’t have a million dollars, what would buying an ice cream cone really do?’ “
“Every dollar is a life changer. There is not a single donation that will not affect lives.”
This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus-based Jenny is among those who donate to mental health groups