After Successful Holiday, Birminghan Non-Profit Stresses Need for New Donors in 2011

Sixty-eight families throughout Metro Detroit had a happy end to 2010 and the Birmingham-based Yatooma’s Foundation for the Kids — the organization responsible for such holiday cheer — couldn’t be happier.

Yatooma’s collected donations to give Christmas presents to 68 families in need last year. To “adopt out” that many families in one holiday season is a reason to be thankful, Yatooma’s Advanced Coordinator Melinda Keating said.

“We are rejoicing because we had all our families adopted out,” she said.

According to Keating, although the non-profit typically serves this many families throughout the year, this is the first time that all of the families received presents for the holidays. In 2009 only 10 families were “adopted out” to receive gifts.

Founded in 2003, Yatooma’s serves children that have lost a mother, father or both. Through counseling, financial aid and mentoring, Yatooma’s tries to help children and families get back on their feet and cope with their loss.

This year, Keating said Yatooma partnered with Art Van Furniture to provide three families with an Extreme Christmas Makeover. On Dec. 23, families from Lake Orion, Pontiac and Detroit were surprised with laptops, clothes, used cars and more, along with money to pay off mortgages and bills.

Funds were provided from numerous sponsors for Yatooma to purchase the various items. Keating said she could not disclose how much money was raised.

“Each day we are getting thank you letters for my Wii, for my computer, for my new pajamas…we’re really starting out on a new leg this year,” Keating said.

However, Keating hopes people remain as generous during 2011. The organization usually stays in contact with their children for two years, however it requires a substantial amount of private donations to provide each child and family with grieving and counseling services. Keating said the organization has had to cut back in order to save money.

“We are cutting back on the way we spend our money to raise money and I think people respect that,” Keating said. “For example they aren’t getting an engraved invitation now because that costs more, but still are getting an elegant and attractive invitation.”

Keating said the foundation is trying to shake up their event schedule to attract more donors since the organization needs donations all year round, not just during the holidays.

“It’s not just kids who need snow boots at Christmas, they need backpacks in September, money for counseling and maybe a tutor because they’re having a hard time in math because they can’t focus after losing their mom,” Keating said.

Yatooma regularly hosts bowling parties, fashion shows and puts together Back-to-School Backpacks, however Keating said they’re also looking into hosting a walkathon and Mother’s Day shop in 2011. Attracting children is also an important priority, Keating said.

“We do a lot of black tuxedo events, but now we want to do something at (a) grassroots level like a carnival, parade or zoo,” she said.

As for their next event, Yatooma will also be partnering with two organizations to put on a Rockin’ the Dream Charity Concert from noon-3 p.m. on Jan. 17 at the Crofoot in Pontiac. The concert costs $20 to attend and will feature Australian pop artist Cody Simpson.

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