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When businesses and the community team up to help those in need, great things can happen. That’s the idea behind a new movement in Bismarck and Mandan called The Mercy Box. What started as a one-time collection has grown into something much more. Sargianna Wutzke is the chair of The Mercy Box. She shares about the project that’s helping a different nonprofit organization each month.
Tell us a little history of The Mercy Box.
The Mercy Box was started as a movement to help the homeless by collecting items for blessing bags. It was originally going to be a one-time collection. After the event, it was decided that there are many deserving nonprofits and causes in Bismarck-Mandan that are in need of donations. The Mercy Box could be a way to help impact those nonprofits and causes. The Mercy Box has grown into a movement that brings the community together to collect donations for a new nonprofit or cause each month.
How does The Mercy Box work?
Nonprofits apply to be recipients of The Mercy Box. There is a new nonprofit or cause chosen each month; the chosen group sends a list of up to four items that they would like to be collected in The Mercy Box (which are actually just red totes placed around town). We put signage on each box that gives information about the nonprofit or cause for the month as well as their donation requests. The Mercy Box team puts all this information out on our website and Facebook page so the community is aware of what donations are needed that month. Community members drop off their donations at one of the 20 drop-off locations in Bismarck-Mandan. At the end of the month, The Mercy Box team collects the donations and then delivers them to the nonprofit.
Have you selected future nonprofits? If so, what are they?
We have selected nonprofits and causes for the rest of 2018. They are: Carrie’s Kids (July), Will-Moore Elementary (August), Missouri Slope Areawide United Way (September), Pink it Forward (October), God’s Child Project (November), and Charles Hall Youth Services (December). We are currently taking applications for 2019.
You mentioned the red totes that are placed around town for donations. Where can people find those?
Our drop-off sites in Bismarck are Boneshaker Coffee, YMCA, Luna Fusion, Bjork Dental, The Printers, First Western Bank and Trust, Fireside Office Solutions, Proforms, Roberta Storm- State Farm Agency, Bismarck Antique Mall, Bismarck Police Department, Core Chiropractic, Booming Nutrition, Surprise Church, and People Ready. In Mandan, drop-off sites are Classic Rock Coffee, BAM Nutrition, Taylor Made BBQ, Farmers Union Insurance, and Surprise Church Mandan.
How are you different from other organizations like yours?
We are different as we are the only organization that currently collects donations throughout the year for different nonprofits and causes each month. There are many different organizations that collect for a certain special event for a nonprofit, but not on an ongoing basis. We realize that there are so many amazing nonprofits and causes in our community that are in need of a variety of items. We want to help reach as many of them as possible through the movement of The Mercy Box.
What are your needs right now if someone would like to help?
We are currently looking for more drop-off sites in the community. We’re looking for businesses that are easily accessible for the public to drop off donations. We supply the red Mercy Box totes, and The Mercy Box team picks up donations at the end of the month and changes the signs to the new nonprofit or cause each month. Our team handles all social media for the boxes and checks in with each business monthly as well. It is literally hassle free for businesses to take a box and they get to impact a new nonprofit or cause each month.
How can people contact you?
They can call 701-319-9928 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We also have a website, themercybox.com. There you will find a list of all the drop-off locations as well as their business hours. Thanks to an amazing volunteer, we’ve got a new feature on our website—an interactive map of all our locations; you can click on the drop-off site, and it will show you where it is on the map and the hours that business is open.
How can people donate or get involved?
People can get involved by donating to the nonprofit of the month. The drop-off sites in the community are businesses that people frequent already, so why not drop-off donations and impact those that need it.