The Empty Tomb asked and the Empty Tomb received, again leaving no doubt about the generosity of the people of Champaign County.
The Champaign-based Christian charity, which provides food, clothing, furniture, home repairs and financial assistance for needy families, found itself in a financial bind last summer and fall. Two months ago, the Empty Tomb had a deficit of more than $20,000 and was having trouble paying its employees.
Fundraising appeals went out, and funds came in – $17,000 in one day, $13,000 more over the next two. And the money is still coming in, Marcia Gruschow, the agency's coordinator, said Friday. "We just continue to be amazed at how generous people have been," she said. "In fact, right now my desk is full of thank-you letters that I have to send out."
All of the Empty Tomb's bills have been paid, its employees salaries are current, it has been able to set aside more than $7,000 for a medical fund that helps the needy pay for prescription medications and now it is hoping to raise enough money to set aside $4,000 every month for an operating reserve. It's almost there, according to the organization's Web site, www.emptytomb.org .
Just because its bills are paid doesn't mean things are entirely rosy at the Empty Tomb. There's still a great need for volunteers to help with tasks ranging from sorting clothes and delivering food and furniture to making renovations to homes.
And another worthy local charity – the Salvation Army – is behind last year's pace in its fundraising. Donations both at its familiar red kettles and through checks mailed into the church are about $18,000 behind last year's pace. There's still time to help the Salvation Army with its Christmas giving – or to volunteer to ring bells outside of local stores.