WAXAHACHIE — One hundred residents supporting non-profit organizations with hopes to build a stronger Ellis County was the initial goal of the “100 Givers” program. If each of those 100 residents donated $100, the program could help local nonprofits with a yearly contribution of $10,000.

After year one, those goals have been met and succeeded, as 105 "givers" took part in the program. John Wyckoff, who helped organize the program, now has his sights set on a bigger goal in year two.

While serving as the director of the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center, Wyckoff got the idea for the program after reading an article in the Dallas Morning News about an organization that annually raises $10,000 for a different nonprofit organization. After a little research, Wyckoff brought the idea from Dallas to Waxahachie with dreams of repeating the success in Ellis County.

“We had our meeting on Thursday, Feb. 9 at the Nay Barn. Forty-eight out of the approximately 105 givers were able to attend. The 100 givers nominated 14 agencies, and via email, we took a vote, and the top three were then selected to present at the meeting. The three agencies that selected were Campfire Creek Therapeutic Riding Center, the Miracle League of Ellis County and the Gingerbread house,” Wyckoff said. “Each agency was allowed to set up a booth before the vote and before the presentations.

"The three agencies then presented, then they took a secret ballot, and the advocacy center won by one vote. The other two agencies also got donations from some of the givers that were there.”

Kelley Cruzan, along with Pat Merrill and Paula Baucum, were a part of the 100 Giver Administrative and Planning Committee. They worked with Wyckoff to establish the rules and bylaws for the group, and they selected the three finalists from the 14 groups that were nominated by the members.

“When John mentioned that he saw something similar to this program being done in Dallas and asked my opinion of it I said I think that it is a fantastic idea because it's an opportunity to pull together and make a significant contribution to a needy cause but with very little impact to each individual. So that is what appealed to me about it. I just told him from the beginning that I wanted to be a part of it and help in any way that I can,” Cruzan said. “We had a really good turnout for our first one. We had over half our folks show up for the evening.

"We have had a lot of response afterward that they would like to see us grow this. 100 Givers was our goal, and we exceeded that in our first year. So I think that we will go back and look at where do we go from here? Do we make this 200 givers? Do we put any number on this at all?”

The funds generated this year by the donations of each member will be used to help the advocacy center hire another counselor. According to its website, the Ellis County Children’s Advocacy Center has a mission is to help young victims that have been involved in cases of child abuse, sexual abuse, homicide or who have witnessed a child death. The center works with local law enforcement agencies to provide a safe place where victims can be interviewed once and not have to re-live the experience through multiple interviews.

Wyckoff hopes to couple those funds with state funds and private donations to have another councilor brought on board by October. With the advocacy center being selected as this year's recipient it would not be eligible again for another five years to be nominated.

The Miracle League of Ellis County stated on its Facebook page that it was proud to be nominated.

“We were so grateful to be included in the three finalists for the 100 Givers - Ellis County at The Nay Barn this past week. We were given the opportunity to share the story about how important inclusive play and adaptive sports are to ALL of our children especially those who have a wide variety of abilities,” the Miracle League posted. “It was an honor to be included with Campfire Creek Therapeutic Riding Center and Gingerbread House and so excited for the donation to Gingerbread House to support their efforts in the times of crises for children.”

Campfire Creek shared a similar thought about the nomination on its Facebook page.

“Campfire Creek was honored to be recognized along with The Gingerbread House and The Miracle League as potential recipients of funds from the 100-plus Givers Club. Each nonprofit is such an asset to the families of Ellis County,” Campfire Creek posted. “We were privileged to be able to share our mission and our goals. It was a great opportunity to meet and make new friends with many interested and generous individuals from our community. Thank you so much and congratulations to The Gingerbread House!”

Wyckoff noted the second goal of the 100 Givers program is to provide an opportunity for people to get to know the non-profit organizations that are working in the community, connect with them, see how they can help and what opportunities there are to volunteer. Wyckoff hopes to have more than 200 people involved in the program when the voting takes place next year.

To help get the word out about the 100 Givers, a Facebook Page has been set up to promote the group, which can be found at "100 Givers — Ellis County." For more information, or to sign up to become a member of the 100 Givers program, contact Wyckoff by email at john.eccac@ectisp.net.

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