Donors support schools, churches, ministries through #iGiveCatholic

Mercedes Sandoval, a kindergarten student at St. John Vianney School in Gallatin, works on a computer during a recent school day. St. John Vianney School received $13,625 in online gifts through the annual #iGiveCatholic campaign and was among the top recipients among schools, churches and ministries in the Diocese of Nashville that participated. The money will be used to meet instructional needs and enhance technology in the school. Tennessee Register file photo by Andy Telli

Schools, churches and ministries across the Diocese of Nashville reached out to supporters for help through the #iGiveCatholic online giving campaign, and people responded with gifts totaling nearly $40,000.

“I think it’s very important that we keep our Catholic schools open,” said an anonymous donor who made a $10,000 gift to St. John Vianney School in Gallatin where their grandchildren are students.

“I think we need to bring God back into our schools and our homes and into our public square. We need not be quiet,” the donor said. “We need to bring God back to us. We need him right now, more than ever.”

Helping Catholic schools like St. John Vianney can achieve that goal, said the donor, who called the school’s staff “wonderful.”

The #iGiveCatholic campaign is part of the #GivingTuesday campaign, which solicits donations for non-profit organizations across the country on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. This was the second year that organizations in the Diocese of Nashville participated.

According to the #iGiveCatholic website, 21 schools, churches and ministries in the diocese received a total of $38,240 in online gifts from 96 donors.

The campaign might generate even more support when donations other than online gifts or donations made through organizations’ own giving page are added to the tally, said Ashley Linville, director of development for the diocese.

St. John Vianney was among the top recipients in the diocese with $13,625 in online gifts.

The money will be used for a variety of instructional needs as well as to enhance the technology used in the school, such as buying more smartboards so every classroom has the capability to be wireless and more interactive, said St. John Vianney Principal Natalie Eskert.

“We’ve done a lot regarding technology this year,” Eskert said, including buying new laptops for all of the school’s teachers and more Chromebooks for the students to use.

“The campaign is important because tuition doesn’t cover the cost per student to operate our schools,” Eskert said. “It’s important to have these fundraisers so we can do what we’re promising to do, which is to provide academic excellence for the students.”

St. Patrick School in McEwen also had success in the campaign, raising a total of $14,200. The goal was to raise $10,000 through the #iGiveCatholic campaign to start the school’s Annual Fund drive, St. Patrick Principal Sister Veronica Marie Buckmaster, O.P., said.

The goal for St. Patrick’s Annual Fund is to raise $45,000, which, with other fundraising efforts such as the famous Irish Picnic every summer, the Irish Fun Run, the Legacy Club Dinner and Auction and the school’s Spring Barbecue, covers 40 percent of the school’s operational costs, Sister Veronica Marie said.

“It helps St. Patrick to keep tuition low and Catholic education more accessible to the children in our community, which includes St. Patrick Parish, St. Christopher Parish, and the wider McEwen, Waverly, and Dickson communities,” Sister Veronica Marie said.

The money raised through the Annual Fund this year is slated to help pay for repairs to the gym roof, the replacement of one of the school’s HVAC systems, and the refurbishing of the school’s exterior doors, she said. “This fund will also help us purchase additional technology for the use of our students and help us provide high quality professional development opportunities to empower our teachers to enhance student learning,” Sister Veronica Marie added.

Both St. John Vianney and St. Patrick actively promoted the #iGiveCatholic Campaign.

“We promoted it mostly on social media,” Eskert said. “I specified the items that we were raising funds for. It was consistent. It was posted daily as a reminder that it was coming.”

But the success of the campaign relies on more than promotion, Sister Veronica Marie said. “We could say it was the video we put together or the email blast that went out, but really the secret to our success is found in the good people who gave so generously. There is a legacy of giving here that is truly unique and inspiring. We entrusted this year’s Annual Fund to the Infant Jesus of Prague. He continues to inspire many to support us in our efforts to form and educate children in His Gospel.”

The support sends a message to the students “that their Catholic education is important to their community,” Sister Veronica Marie said. “The community is invested in them, in their faith, and in their future, both temporal and eternal.”

In explaining their gift, St. John Vianney’s anonymous donor cited the line from the Gospel of Luke: “To whom much is given, much will be required.”

“We’ve been blessed,” they said.

Although the #iGiveCatholic campaign is over, people can still give to the schools, churches and ministries in the diocese by reaching out to them directly, Linville said. “Or they can contact me, and I can put them in touch with whoever they need to be in touch with.”

People can email Linville at Ashley.linville@dioceseofnashville.com.