Triangle charities canceling precious fundraisers amid coronavirus pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Charitable foundations across the Triangle are bracing for the financial blow from the coronavirus pandemic.

The new social distancing guidelines will make hosting fundraisers nearly impossible for the time being. Not only does this cripple their ability to serve the community, but smaller charities also might not be able to survive.

The Fill Your Bucket List foundation grants wishes to older adults who have cancer and don't have the money to spend on things, such as a UNC basketball game. Like many, Fill Your Bucket List's annual fundraiser set for next month is canceled.

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"That is the Bucket Bash," said founder Peggy Carroll. "That creates about 90 percent of our income for the year."

Without that money, the wish trips, which are mostly time away with family, can't happen.

"It's going to really impact our ability to grant wishes and to continue to basically stay afloat as a small foundation," Carroll said.

Tracy Callahan is in the same boat. Her annual gala to support The Polka Dot Mama, a melanoma cancer charity that she created, was scrapped.

The loss of funds will hurt. Callahan was also forced to cancel a free screening.

"Our goal to screen a thousand patients; we had to cancel that," Callahan said. "And that worries me because there is a lot of people out there who need to have their skin checked."

Both organizations are looking for alternative ways to serve.

"We are probably going to end up being a more home base, more local wishes just to make sure we are careful of their health," Carroll said.

Despite the setbacks, the Polka Dot Mama sees a silver lining.

"This is how we have to tackle this, as a community," Callahan said. "We all have hardships that are going to be upon us. But if we could just work together and rally together imagine what we could do."

Callahan plans to organize a virtual gala, getting the speakers to record videos, and holding a silent auction online. She called it the best gala you won't attend.
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