Chamber 'Gifts' program accepting applications

Jan. 16, 2013 @ 08:05 AM

Since 2007, the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce has taken part of its money and given it back as financial assistance for programs in the community.

The Community Gifts Program is designed to provide funds for special projects benefiting the community as well as potential funding for non-profits and charity organizations.

Rutherford County Chamber Director Clark Poole said Tuesday that the application process for this year's program has been opened and applications are being accepted.

"It is just an opportunity for the Chamber to give back to the community," Poole said. "Community and business is linked and community self-esteem is directly related to the business climate."

According to Poole, any organization looking to be considered for funding through the Community Gifts Program can submit their request until March 4.

Any letters submitted need to contain the organization, what the organization does in the community, amount of assistance requested and a brief description of how the money will be spent.

Poole said that any non-profit or charity can submit an application for consideration.

In 2012, the Chamber gave $20,000 in total to the Community Empowerment Project, Store House Pantry, Rutherford Life Services, Helping Hands Food Pantry and the Backpack Project organized by the Rutherford County Board of Realtors.

"Not always do we give that amount of funds, but last year we had a strong application process," Poole said.

The money for the Community Gifts Program comes from proceeds derived from the annual Chamber Raffle, held in December. Poole said that the Raffle accounts for approximately 30 percent of the Chamber's gross income.

Other avenues of income for the Chamber come from membership fees, the annual golf tournament, sales from Chamber maps and other advertising materials.

Poole said that a committee will be established to review the applications for this year's Community Gifts Program and award the money once all of the applications are received at the Chamber office (162 North Main Street, Rutherfordton) and reviewed.

"The Chamber does like to give the gifts for the projects that can impact the most people," Poole said. "It is a good thing.

"We certainly hope that our Raffle this year will be even more profitable so that we can give back more money because that is what it's all about."