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Festival funds benefit many

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The money you spend on microbrews at a Greenwood summer festival pays for programs that give Christmas presents and coats to children in need.

Four years ago, WAMMFest, an art and music festival, raised about $20,000 in proceeds. All of that money went to local nonprofits and organizations in small donations, mostly between $500 and $1,000.

This year, the Sertoma Club of Greenwood made about $81,000 at the festival, after paying for the festival’s expenses, and is giving $30,000 to the city parks department for projects, including building a gazebo and amphitheater.

The rest of the money will go to local nonprofit groups and other organizations, such as the United Way Christmas Angels program, that help needy families and residents.

“It gives us the opportunity to touch more people and organizations. We give away everything that we make,” WAMMFest steering committee member Joyce Nies said.

The goal is to donate all of the money made at the 2013 WAMMFest, Sertoma sponsorship committee member Denny Rusher said. But this year, the club had about $15,000 left from the 2011 festival, and Rusher said they will most likely have money left again next August.

Money made at the festival mainly comes from ticket sales and sponsorships, and Nies said the club usually has money left over because members are picky about what projects they give money to.

Recently, they started looking for projects that get them involved in the community, such as buying Christmas presents for local families.

This month, WAMMFest money and member donations were used to buy presents for 25 families, and members delivered the presents for the first time, Nies said.

“A lot of clubs are hands on, but we’ve never really done that. We’ve been more of a check-writing club. We want to continue to do that, but this gets us a bit more involved in the community,” Rusher said.

The international Sertoma Club’s focus is on speech and hearing, and the local group tries to donate money to programs with that focus, including buying equipment teachers can use with hearing-impaired students, Nies said. But they also give money to programs that help children, such as buying coats for students at Isom and Northeast elementary schools, Nies said.

“We don’t want children to do without,” Nies said.

The sponsorship committee usually hears two presentations a month and mostly receives emails asking for donations. Each request is reviewed closely to decide if it is a cause the group would support and to determine how much money to give.

The committee supports programs that help children or that want to buy specific items, such as a big-screen TV for a local senior services facility, and rarely denies a request, Rusher said.

“There are so many good causes out there, but we want to be very careful to vet each request. But we love to give money away,” Nies said.

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