Habitat for Humanity in Anniston is among the many local nonprofit agencies that have had to cancel fundraising events this year due to COVID-19.
Lobsterfest, an annual Habitat event, was canceled this year for fear of creating a space where infection might spread, the event’s organizers announced last month. The 23-year-old event typically brings in thousands of dollars to help Habitat build homes for people in need.
Amanda Pinson, director of the Calhoun-Cleburne chapter of Habitat for Humanity, said Thursday that the agency had three building projects planned this year: one home renovation, one addition to an existing home, and the construction of one new home in the Coldwater community.
Pinson said the projects weren’t put completely on hold, thanks to a COVID grant from the state totalling $15,000. Only the new home is stalled.
“We’re still going to be requesting funding for that home build,” Pinson said. “It’s more expensive than the renovation or addition. It’s about 60 percent of the way done.”
COVID has also hit hard in the volunteer department; Pinson estimated that Habitat has lost hundreds of hours of volunteer labor hours this year. When they’re able to work, volunteers often take on what Pinson called “volunteer-friendly” tasks, such as painting, installing insulation and building porches and ramps. Contractors handle structural work, HVAC and tasks that demand professional certification.
The organization had also planned to expand into Cleburne County this year, but with funding set back and volunteer hours dramatically reduced, the plan will have to wait.
Meanwhile, Habitat invented a new fundraising opportunity this year: “Building Homes — One Wreath at a Time,” selling holiday pine wreaths to hang on the door.
The sale had been set to end in early October, but the agency is keeping the sale going until early November, when the wreath orders are set to arrive. Once they’re in hand, Pinson said, buyers can pick them up at a contactless drive-thru at the Habitat office Nov. 13-14.
“We’re hoping to have hot chocolate and apple cider here to try and make it a feel-good event,” Pinson said.
The wreaths are $35 each and may be ordered at the Habitat office at 22 W. 10th St. in Anniston. Between the fundraiser and the agency’s thrift store at the same address, Pinson said, the service will keep going, even if not at the capacity she’d like.
“We’re using the wreath fundraiser not only to raise money for the next home build but to say, ‘Hey, we’re here,’” Pinson said.
Those who want to donate instead of buying a wreath can do so online at the agency’s website, habitatanniston.org, or by visiting the office on West 10th Street, or by calling 256-237-3700.