The Classy Awards

Stay Classy is a San Deigo-based startup project that developed an online fundraising product. It’s used by thousands of nonprofit organizations around the world and has seen amazing growth since it was founded in 2006. After revisions and iterations to the platform is has now evolved into an industry-leading online fundraising solution for foundations, charities, churches, schools, clubs and more. Recently, the founders were recognized by Bloomberg Business Week as one of the top 5 most promising social entrepreneurs in America. Simply put, StayClassy provides an easy way to allow supporters of charities to become fundraisers.

Stay Classy also annually hosts the largest philanthropic award show in the country called the Classy Awards. The regional award winners already selected for the ceremony in September.

The regional winners are broken up by type of charity and, obviously, region. There are 16 categories, ranging from hunger and poverty relief to volunteer of the year and best new charity – for a full list of the winners hop on over to their website.

Let’s take a look at a few finalists.

Most Effective Awareness Campaign, winner for the South region is: Operation Helmet.

In a cost savings initiative, Government Issue (GI) helmet pads have gone from top-of-the-line, protective and comfortable to cheaper, harder helmet pads. While the new helmets pass laboratory tests for impact protection, they’re uncomfortable and often resulted in combat troops removing their helmets in dangerous situations, leaving them exposed. In 2006 Doc Bob Meaders, CEO and Founder of Operation Helmet, has convinced the Army to increase their protection and padding in their helmets and Meaders is working tirelessly with Armed Forces Committee’s to get other branches to follow suit.

Small Charity of the year, winner from the East region is: Move for Hunger

1 and 6 Americans, including 17 million children relied on emergency food relief in 2011. With the economy struggling to provide consistent support, Move for Hunger was established to partner with relocation companies, 340 in 43 states to be exact, to donate non-perishable items when folks move to a new residence. Movers, armed with local hunger statistics collect food from people, rather than packing it up to the new house, and donate it to local food banks.

Volunteer of the Year, winner from the West region is: Scott Kellermann for the Kellermann Foundation

In 2000 Scott and his wife Carol went to Uganda to perform medical needs surveys on the Batwa pygmies, the indigenous former inhabitants of the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest. It was discovered that not only are they among the most impoverish people in the world, but their life expectancy is 28 and an average income of $25/year. The Kellermanns sold all their possessions and moved to the region to start a small clinic and school. 10 years later there are over 600 students enrolled at 3 schools, 120 homes have been built, and 132-bed hospital erected that serves a growing population of over 60,000. Year after year, hundreds of volunteers come from around the world to assist with the Kellermann projects.

Human Rights, winner from the Midwest is: The Sparkle Effect

With over 5 million disabled students attending schools in America, very few schools accommodate these students in sports and activities and the result is exclusion and ostracizing. In 2008 the first Sparkle Squad was born, giving teens with disabilities ranging from Down syndrome to autism. They practice and cheer alongside varsity cheerleaders at home football and basketball games to roaring crowds and standing ovations. Now, the Sparkle Effect has raised over $150,000 and generated 60 squads in high schools from California to Connecticut. With emphasis on connection rather than competition, the Sparkle Effect is growing exponentially and soon may reach every high school in the country.

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