A planned Del Mar fundraiser for Hands of Peace has turned into an online campaign.
The nonprofit, which aims to empower and unite Israeli, Palestinian, and American youth, originally planned to have its annual benefit in April in Del Mar. However, the rapid spread of the new coronavirus, which causes the deadly COVID-19 disease, prompted the cancellation of the event.
“I had hoped to greet everyone personally at the San Diego benefit, but as we all know now, the world had other plans,” said Hands of Peace founder Gretchen Grad, who created the program in 2003. “Whether they are American, Israeli, or Palestinian, the younger generation is crying out to have their voices heard. And we won’t stop supporting them, even if planes aren’t flying and we can’t gather in the same room.”
The cancellation forced the nonprofit to take its fundraising efforts online, launching a campaign on April 5 that will last until Sunday, April 19. Nonprofit leaders hope the online fundraiser will raise at least $20,000, which will be matched by a donor.
“One of the main reasons we decided to pivot to an online fundraiser instead of simply cancelling our Spring Benefit in San Diego is because our volunteers had put in hundreds of hours and many individuals and local businesses had already made auction donations,” Diana Kutlow, Hands of Peace development director, said. “We want to honor the contributions of our community.”
Since the first Hands of Peace Summer Program in 2003, many of its more than 650 alumni have become lawyers, engineers, doctors, and environmentalists. Others are legislators, diplomats, entrepreneurs, and journalists. All of them are creating change around the world, nonprofit leaders said.
During the two-week “Magic Happens Online” virtual fundraising event, the San Diego community will be able to connect online with some of those inspiring youth leaders and bid for auction items to continue its support of Hands of Peace programs.
“We are living in uncertain times, and San Diego’s support is now more important than ever,” said Peg Lee, Hands of Peace Board Chair. “As we shift to virtual communications with our participants around the world, we will use this time to identify ways in which we can deepen connection, strengthen dialogue and increase their impact in the years to come.”
To learn more about Hands of Peace or to make a donation, go to www.handsofpeace.org.