Nonprofits tally a great season of giving

The holiday spirit of giving that fueled fundraising campaigns at Bluffton Self Help and Deep Well will help area residents in crisis throughout the year, according to directors of both nonprofit organizations.

Deep Well drew nearly half of its $689,000 annual budget from its year-end Empty Well campaign. Through Jan. 7, donors contributed $308,500, including money raised at the annual Thanksgiving Dinner at Hudson's Seafood House on the Docks and donations from the Dove Street Festival of Lights.

Both organizations were aided by publication of stories in The Island Packet about needy people they helped.

Bluffton Self Help received $60,894 in donations. The organization didn't set a fundraising goal because directors didn't know how people would respond to the drive, according to Julie Del Guercio, who is temporarily handling administrative duties.

The commitment of residents to helping others exceeded their expectations, she said.

"We had such a wonderful response," she said, adding that contributions kept coming after the last story was published Dec. 31.

Bluffton Self Help board president Peter Bromley said the money raised was twice the amount the organization received in the same time period last year.

"We just looked at our numbers for the year, and we were down a little for the number of financial-assistance requests we could afford to approve," he said. "This will help us tremendously to help more people."

Betsy Doughtie, executive director of Deep Well, said the money will help her organization meet the increased needs.

"We are thrilled that in this economy people are able to be so generous," she said.

Both Deep Well and Bluffton Self Help provide a wide range of services for the elderly, the disabled and the working poor through short-term financial assistance, food and clothing donations, and holiday meal and toy drives.