Just minutes after their unanimous decision to cancel Blossom Time 2020, the Chagrin Valley Jaycees formed their charitable subcommittee in early April to determine how they can help with the coronavirus outbreak as soon as possible.

Instead of waiting until the group’s annual award ceremony in February, where they announce the Distinguished Service Award and make their usual donations, subcommittee Chairman Craig Lyndall said it made more sense to donate to nonprofits that could use the money now during the COVID-19 health crisis that shutdown the state and force the cancellation crowd-drawing events like Blossom Time.

“We decided that time was of the essence,” Mr. Lyndall said.

Earlier this week, the Jaycees announced that they will be splitting a donation of $15,000 among four nonprofits in the Chagrin Valley: Chagrin Valley Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit of the Year Bainbridge Area Food for Friends, Chagrin Falls Park Community Center, WomenSafe and Meals on Wheels.

Mr. Lyndall explained that the Jaycees wanted to donate to charities they knew could “use the money immediately and make an impact as soon as possible.” Committee members agreed that it was important to donate to these nonprofits that provide food for communities, including elderly residents who are categorized as one of the most at-risk groups for COVID-19.

Statewide strategies to slow the virus began in March with the closing of schools and nonessential businesses as well as imposing a stay-at-home order, now known as Stay Safe Ohio in its second phase. The state now is being opened up slowly by the governor.

For WomenSafe, he said the Jaycees have supported them for a long time. “And our friends at Give Chagrin Valley Women’s League were already doing a product drive, like an Amazon product drive, to help them,” he added. “So, it was a natural fit for us to include them because we’ve heard that they were in need and serving people in the community right now, right away.”

Like others who have put off important events due to the outbreak, Mr. Lyndall said the group went through their own “mourning period” after canceling Blossom Time, but “we instantly turned it into, how can we help and how can we help immediately? And that’s when the charitable subcommittee formed.”

Along with Mr. Lyndall, the Chagrin Valley Jaycees Charitable Subcommittee includes members Jeff Poprik, Ivan Nassif, Jason Zuber, Sean McMillion, Gabe Franklin and Jeff Wenham.

In addition to the $15,000 donation, the Jaycees also announced some virtual Blossom Time events in the works to keep the spirit of the valley tradition alive.

“Blossom Time is the biggest fundraiser the Jaycees have every single year, and we take all those proceeds from the blossom time festival and it fronts all of our giving and all of our initiatives for the rest of the year,” Mr. Lyndall said. “Without that, we scrambled to try and find ways to raise money without having the festival.”

So far, Mr. Lyndall said the committee is planning a “gigantic” 50/50 raffle with plans to sell at least $100,000 worth of raffle tickets. In addition to the raffle, he said the Jaycees will be selling Blossom Time t-shirts with a few designs that say “Blossom Forever.” Any revenues from the shirts, he said, will support the Jaycees’ charitable initiatives.

As of now, he said the Jaycees are unsure of how the health crisis will impact their future charitable initiatives. “We’re keeping an eye on the situation,” he said, hoping that the situation stabilizes enough that they can proceed with their usual February awards.

“But obviously, if the need arises and an emergency situation calls, that’s something that I think we’ve learned as a group from COVID-19, that just because we’ve always waited until February, that doesn’t mean we can always wait that long,” Mr. Lyndall said. “We’re serving the community, and when the community’s in need, we need to do whatever we can to step up.”

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