The Link donations

Saints MC member Richard “PawPaw” Darnell, from left, The Link of Cullman County Director of Community Development Melissa Betts and Cullman Bowling Center advertising account executive Colby Sandlin organize donated supplies for the homeless on Thursday afternoon.

With The Link of Cullman County’s annual giving campaign coming to a close, the nonprofit is asking county residents to consider some of the ways that they can give their time or money to help the organization in its mission to lend a hand to those in need.  

This November has marked The Link’s giving campaign, which has been centered around a quote from Fred Rogers of Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood: “Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Each week of the campaign has featured a new question for residents to ask themselves as they consider ways to lend a hand in their community, and heading into the final week, the question is “How can I connect with my neighborhood?”

Giving Tuesday, which is held every year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, is a time when many nonprofits are reaching out to their communities to raise some funding for the coming year, and The Link is taking the opportunity to ask for support, said Director of Community Development Melissa Betts.

With Thanksgiving over and Christmas right around the corner, it’s a time of the year when people are looking for reasons to be thankful and may be looking to help out those who are less fortunate, she said. 

Many of The Link’s staff members and board members are also hosting their own giving campaigns of Facebook, with each of them aiming to raise $1,000, and links for those campaigns will be shared on The Link’s Facebook page throughout next week. 

While one-time donations go a long way towards helping The Link continue its community programs, recurring monthly donations can keep a steady flow of funding coming into the organization while allowing the The Link and donors to form a better relationship, Betts said. 

“We love one-time donations, but what we would love is to have people partner up with us as a monthly donor,” she said. “Because we believe that helps us establish a working relationship with them to buy into our mission.”

Betts said a monthly $20 donation can feed a family of four who comes through The Link’s Master’s Hands Food Pantry, and a monthly $50 donation can support an adult who is going through The Link’s eight-week Renew U program to develop better skills to cope with some of life’s challenges.

Along with the opportunity to support The Link monetarily, there are also chances to help out by donating and time and effort to the organization, she said. 

There are ways for everyone to come and lend a hand, and The Link also offers volunteers a chance for volunteers to match their skills and interests to programs in which they can do the most good, she said. 

“Some people may want to come work in the food pantry, but there are others who may want to come and teach a class or mentor,” she said. 

Betts said The Link debuted a new mission statement this year that features a new focus on partnering with people and working alongside them to help build better relationships with themselves and in their personal lives. 

That partnership can be with a child who needs tutoring or mentoring, someone who just got out of prison and is looking for a way to better themselves, or it could be with anyone else in the community who needs help developing those relationships, she said. 

“Any of the things that we do, it’s about relationship building,” she said.

There are already many people who come to The Link for assistance or to take part in one of its programs, but there are many others who need help but haven’t reached out yet, and continuing to develop relationships in the community can hopefully get the word out that The Link is open for everyone, Betts said. 

“We know that our work at The Link is nowhere near finished. We really do believe that we’ve just started,” she said. “There are are so many people who need someone to walk alongside them.”

Betts said the people of Cullman County have always been generous, with many who don’t have much money still giving as much as they can to local nonprofits, and she hopes that will continue into 2021 as The Link continues its mission.

“I would encourage people to continue that spirit in Cullman County, because I think we’re better together,” she said. 

To donate to The Link of Cullman County, visit linkingcullman.org/how-to-help/donate and visit linkingcullman.org/how-to-help/volunteer to see the many different opportunities that are available for people to donate their time to help out their neighbors.

Tyler Hanes can be reached at 256-734-2131 ext. 238.

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