Helping Works

A one-day donation ‘blitz’: What are you doing for Idaho Gives?

Girl Scouts of Silver Sage worked with Boise State University and other local organizations to build a “Little Free Library” at the Owyhee Place Apartments in Boise. The scouts will be out in force on Idaho Gives Day, May 5, doing volunteer work in the Treasure Valley and beyond. Idaho Gives donations to the Girl Scouts will support programs, activities, volunteer training and financial aid for low-income girls.
Girl Scouts of Silver Sage worked with Boise State University and other local organizations to build a “Little Free Library” at the Owyhee Place Apartments in Boise. The scouts will be out in force on Idaho Gives Day, May 5, doing volunteer work in the Treasure Valley and beyond. Idaho Gives donations to the Girl Scouts will support programs, activities, volunteer training and financial aid for low-income girls. Girl Scouts of Silver Sage

Last year, the annual online day of giving raised $1.1 million for hundreds of charitable causes, including arts and culture, children and youth, humanitarian aid, education, animals, religious organizations and more. This year, Idaho Gives takes place all day (as in, midnight until 11:59 p.m.) on Thursday, May 5. Donors can log on to the Idaho Gives website,, and find their favorite cause. The website will give updates throughout the day. In addition to the donations they take in, participating organizations are eligible for cash bonuses provided by local supporters.

Amy Little, executive director of the Idaho Nonprofit Center, the host of Idaho Gives, said Idaho Gives has grown consistently since it began. The number of donors has swelled from 6,192 in 2013 to 8,905 in 2015. The size of the average donation has grown from $57 in 2013 to $70 in 2015.

Little notes that there are fees attached to donations, which pay for things like bank costs and security measures for donors. Razoo, the nonprofit foundation that provides the online donation platform, charges a 6.9 percent fee, plus $.30 for each donation. An additional 2 percent offsets the cost of organizing and running Idaho Gives. That includes staff time, printed promotional material and more.

Donors have the option to “boost” a donation by paying the roughly 8.9 percent in fees so that their chosen organization receives 100 percent of the donation. In any case, 100 percent of a donor’s gift is tax-deductible. The minimum donation is $10.

Online donation fees vary. Razoo fees fall into the mid-range.

“We do try to be transparent,” said Little. “Some online giving platforms will charge up to 10 percent.”’

Razoo’s focus on donor security made it an attractive option for the Idaho Nonprofit Center, said Little.

Similar donation drives take place in many states, including Oregon and Washington. The city of Seattle has its own online giving day, said Little.

Most participating organizations also host special happenings on the big day. A couple example of events that popped up in our inbox: Arts organizations in the downtown Boise Cultural District will co-host an Arts Block Party on May 5 from 4-7 p.m. in the Esther Simplot Performing Arts Academy parking lot at the intersection of 9th and Myrtle. Participants include Ballet Idaho, Boise Art Museum, Boise Contemporary Theater, Boise Philharmonic, Boise Rock School, Idaho Shakespeare Festival and Opera Idaho. Visitors will enjoy entertainment and performance samplings from the various organizations, not to mention a free bounce house for kids.

In coordination with Idaho Gives Day, Boise Parks & Recreation, Boise Urban Garden School and volunteers will work together to build a new school garden at Whittier Elementary, 301 N. 29th St. in Boise. The fun begins at 10 a.m.

And here’s something cool and creative: In honor of every donor who gives to The Cabin, the staff there will post a special poem or short story on The Cabin’s Facebook page.

Find a full list of events online at

The Idaho Statesman is among Idaho Gives media sponsors.

Panel discussion: Cinco de Mayo: Myths vs Realities

The Idaho State Historical Society partners with the Consulate of Mexico in Boise to present a discussion of Cinco de Mayo in America, the myths about the celebration, its repercussions in the American Civil War, and the ties between Benito Juarez, president of Mexico, and Abraham Lincoln.

Panelists include Celso Delgado, head consul, Consul of Mexico; Errol Jones, emeritus faculty at Boise State University; David Leroy, former attorney general and Idaho’s Lincoln historian, and Ben Earwicker from the faculty of Northwest Nazarene University

The event will start at 6 p.m., with a reception starting at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, May 5, in the lobby of the Idaho State History Center, 2205 E. Old Penitentiary Road.

Documenting the human trafficking industry

“The Abolitionists” is a documentary that depicts the rescue of 57 children from the sex industry.

Operation Underground Railroad, a nonprofit organization whose mission is eradicating sex slavery, as well as rehabilitating children who have been involved, hosts the local screening at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, May 16, at Edwards Boise Stadium 22 and IMAX. Tickets are $14.84 plus fees, available at the door or online through You can also watch a movie trailer on the site.

“Shining a light on child sex trafficking is important not just because there are nearly 2,000,000 enslaved in its grasp, but because it is a tragedy that is happening in our own state and in our own neighborhoods and communities,” said Jessica Hinchey, local head volunteer coordinator for Operation Underground Railroad.

Hinchey joined the organization after learning of its work at a World Congress of Families conference. She now teaches pornography prevention workshops. When the opportunity to increase awareness about child sex trafficking came up, she took it.

According to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center, there have been 17 calls made to the center from Idaho this year concerning human trafficking issues. Human trafficking can include the sex industry (brothels, escort services, etc.), but also coercive labor practices in domestic work, small businesses, farms and factories.

Group works to restore Idaho’s first Universal Peace Pagoda

The nonprofit Open Path, a Center for Eastern and Western Studies, Inc., is raising money and interest to restore Idaho’s first Buddhist Universal Peace Pagoda. Open Path members built the pagoda, which sits on three acres near Robie Creek, in 1982. The group built the structure under the leadership of the Venerable Sayadaw U Thila Wunta, the abbot of a Burmese monastery and master builder.

See photos of the pagoda, learn more of the story and donate online at The good news: The drive has raised about $7,000, well past the halfway mark towards its $12,000 goal.

Along with the pagoda restoration, the Open Path is also raising money to complete some retreat center improvements for windows, doors and siding for its partially built retreat center on the same land as the pagoda. The Open Path, founded in 1976, hosts spiritual teachers and retreats and holds weekly meditation group meetings. Connect with the group through its Facebook page.

Idaho marks Yom Ha’Shoah, Holocaust remembrance

More than three decades ago, Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel member Gayle Speizer led the effort to organize an Idaho observance of Holocaust Remembrance. In 1982, then-Idaho Gov. John Evans signed a proclamation establishing the first statewide observance. An annual ceremony has taken place ever since. Similar ceremonies take place in communities across the country.

This year, Idahoans will pause for Yom Ha’Shoah from noon to 1 p.m. on Thursday, May 5, in the Lincoln Auditorium at the Idaho State Capitol. This year’s ceremony will include proclamations, a candle lighting, music from local choral groups and the reading of the winning essay from The Wilma Landman Loeb Holocaust Remembrance essay contest.

The ceremony will honor a World War II veteran and POW, Russell Biaggne. Born in New Orleans in 1923, Biaggne was drafted by the U.S. Army Flying Corps in 1942 and trained at Gowen Field. He served as a bottom turret gunner on the famous plane known as “Gidi Gidi Boom Boom” which flew 47 missions, bombing oil fields in Bulgaria that supported the German war effort. His plane was shot down and Biaggne spent five months in a Bulgarian Nazi POW camp. After his discharge in 1945, Biaggne returned to Idaho and spent his post-military career working for Idaho Power. He and his late wife, Marie, had four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Biaggne’s son, who is also named Russell, said his father, who is now 93, is living at the Idaho State Veterans Home at the memory loss center. If he is well enough, he will join his family at the ceremony. His son said his father will wear his World War II dress uniform.

Russell Biaggne Jr. said that, like a lot of World War II veterans, his father was reticent when it came to talking about his experiences as a soldier.

“Growing up, I didn’t know he had been in the war, much less a hero in the war,” said Biaggne.

He remembers a visit to St. Louis when he was a teenager. He and his father were walking up a long flight of stairs when a man at the top of the stairs spotted them.

“The man sunk to his knees, sobbing, ‘the bambino, the bambino,’” calling his father by his wartime nickname, said Biaggne.

Slowly, the story of his father’s war years came out, particularly as time when by and Biaggne attended reunions with his fellow airmen. One reunion included Bulgarians whom the Nazis had forced to work as prison guards.