Multiple youth agencies across the East Valley recently received a significant amount of money to support their charitable efforts from a longtime Mesa volunteer organization.
During an event organized by the Mesa HoHoKams in late October, the HoHoKams donated approximately $148,000 to 44 different nonprofit organizations that work with local youth in the East Valley through athletics. When combined with money donated by the Mesa Sports Association, the total contribution came to $225,000 to the multiple athletic organizations.
“It helps them a ton,” said HoHoKams spokesperson Ron Duranti.
Although all 44 organizations received some funds from the organizations, Duranti said the $225,000 wasn’t doled out equally among all 44 groups. Instead, the HoHoKams evaluated the charitable groups by the significance of the effect they have on local children.
In other words, the ones that worked with a larger number of youth received a larger piece of the donation. So while most nonprofit organizations received somewhere between $6,000 and $10,000 a piece, others like the YMCA, which Duranti said received $17,000, were given more.
Even though the distribution isn’t equal, Duranti pointed out the $6,000 to $10,000 those smaller organizations receive can offer a sizable boost their efforts, which in turn increases the number of East Valley children that receive their services.
“That has a huge effect on their sporting activities in the East Valley,” he said.
Although the organization donates somewhere between $150,000 and to $240,000 every year, Duranti said this was the first time the HoHoKams opted to deliver the funding through a large-scale public event. The switch, he said, came from a desire to highlight the nonprofit organizations receiving the funding and provide groups both large and small a modicum of public attention.
It’s a little surprising that this was the first year given how long the Mesa HoHoKams — which sponsors events like high school track and swim meets across the East Valley — have existed. Started back in 1951, Duranti said the organization has played a large role in the ensuing years luring Major League baseball teams to Arizona for Spring Training season.
The HoHoKams major Spring Training role involves the Chicago Cubs, as Duranti said members volunteer to work the concession stands, run the scoreboard, organize the press room and do a series of other activities tied to the operation of Cubs’ games. In exchange for their efforts, which Duranti expects to continue when the Cubs move into their new stadium this spring, the HoHoKams receive a portion of the proceeds from each game.
Those funds are then given back to local organizations through the donations, with the size of the donation dependent upon the attendance figures from the preseason games.
“It’s a direct correlation on how [busy] Spring Training is on how much we raise,” Duranti said.
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