GREENFIELD — Jill Ebbert thought her heart might leap right out of her chest when the endowment for the Kenneth Butler Memorial Soup Kitchen topped $100,000 over the weekend, thanks to the Hancock County Community Foundation’s much-anticipated Match Day.

The fundraising event raised over $500,000 for 14 local nonprofits, each of which have an endowment run through the foundation. That doesn’t include the community foundation’s matching pool of $150,000, which will be added when final results are determined.

The final total will likely grow over the next few days as the foundation’s board members and staff process mail-in donations postmarked by Oct. 1.

The 30-hour Match Day event ran from 4 p.m. Friday through 10 p.m. Saturday in honor of the foundation’s 30th anniversary this year.

The soup kitchen Ebbert runs raised more money than any of the participating nonprofits, although all volunteers went home happy and grateful for the money collected for each organization.

HCCF president Mary Gibble said the weekend couldn’t have gone better, right down to the beautiful weather.

HCCF board members worked in shifts over the weekend, manning the phones and online donations.

The public was invited to stop by and enjoy a bounce house, food trucks and games from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and food and beverage trucks, carnival games and a DJ 5-10 p.m. that day.

Gibble said about 500 people attended throughout the festivities.

Match Day was held at the HCCF’s new future headquarters at 971 W. US 40 in Greenfield, the site of the former Real Life Church.

Since parts of the former church building are being demolished, the event was held at “Match Day Headquarters” in a building behind the church.

“We had individuals stationed at the donation stations all night long,” said Gibble, who said the pace slowed down in the middle of the night but kick-started again Saturday morning.

More than 1,100 gifts were tracked and tallied by community foundation board members, said Gibble, while volunteers from participating nonprofits helped out by calculating gifts, directing parking and hauling trash.

Ebbert happened to be in the room when the donation came in sending the soup kitchen’s endowment over the $100,000 mark.

“I never ever dreamed we would have that much money,” said Ebbert, who went into the event hoping to raise another $25,000 for the endowment established in 2015.

“I eat, sleep and breathe the soup kitchen,” said Ebbert, who has directed the kitchen since it opened in 2009. “I love it, but obviously there’s many many more people who love it too. I am just so humbled by the outpouring of support.”

Ebbert said participating in Match Day was exciting to say the least, especially knowing the hundreds of thousands of dollars raised would be used to benefit those in need throughout Hancock County.

“I’d look at the board to check the (combined) total throughout the weekend, and it was jumping by the thousands. I was just blown away,” she said Monday as dozens of people stopped by the soup kitchen for lunch.

While 60 percent of Match Day gifts are invested to grow endowment funds, 40 percent is granted to participating nonprofits for immediate use.

That’s welcome news at the soup kitchen, which has been experiencing record-setting levels of need.

“The numbers of people coming to us for meals have been up. We’ve been running around 2,500 or 2,600 (visitors) a month, but in September we fed over 3,000,” said Ebbert, who thinks ongoing inflation is partly to blame, making it harder for people to make ends meet.

Gibble said it’s stories like Ebbert’s that makes Match Day and the endowments it supports so important.

Future Match Day fundraisers will be held every five years, she said, to continue growing endowments while thanking the community for its ongoing support.

This year’s final Match Day numbers will likely be tallied and available within the next couple of weeks, said Gibble, and will be announced at the foundation’s 30th Anniversary Gala on Nov. 11. She anticipates that the new community foundation offices will open early next year.


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