Local Vermont donor steps forward with a new, time-limited fundraising match.
In just six days, people from across the country raised nearly $20,000 for LGBTQ+ youth!
It started when now world-famous Bernie-mitten-maker Jen Ellis gifted Outright Vermont 1 of 3 pairs of newly made mitts in a ‘coming out of hiatus’ moment.
In a recent NBC article, Ellis reflected on what LGBTQ+ youth are experiencing during the pandemic: “This hard for them. I just wanted to give them a shoutout, you know, like, ‘Hang in there. This is not going to last forever, and when it’s over, you can go out and hug all your friends and be your awesome selves, out in public.’”
The auction quickly took off, grabbing local and national attention. When it closed Friday at 5:00 p.m., the mittens went to John Canning of Vermont, for $7,650. Canning, a long-time donor, wasn’t about to let the momentum stop there. He immediately reached out to executive director, Dana Kaplan, announcing his decision to donate the mittens back, to be sold for a second time!
And there’s more: Canning offered up a new challenge. If Outright can raise an additional $10,000 (by Friday, 2/5), his business, Physician’s Computer Company, will match those gifts dollar for dollar. That’s another $20,000.
Donations will fund twice as many youth attending what many call a “life-saving” program. Camp Outright is an antidote to the isolation LGBTQ+ youth face year-round; a place they can learn, grow, and thrive with peers and adults who understand them. It’s the one week they can let down their defenses, set aside their worries, and just be kids.
Note: In 2019, the camp was full 33 minutes after registration opened. At that time, Executive Director, Dana Kaplan turned to the Board announcing “we must run two session next year.” Pandemic permitting, this summer, for the cost of $180,000, they will do just that.
Gifts can be made at www.getberniesmittens.com.
As a camper shared: “Camp Outright made me realize how much I’d yearned to be in an environment like this. I never recognized the insecurities, fear, and hatred I’d been living with for the past 16 years. All the subliminal pressures and negativity I experienced had worn me down. The moment someone validated my pronouns, my sexuality, my expression, my entire being—it changed me forever.”