Although they’re calling it little, the aim is still big.
Organizers of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Big Night are ensuring that despite a tongue-in-cheek name change this year to “Little Night,” the annual celebration and fundraiser will boost the community center as well as local businesses.
With COVID-19 hurting so many people, including local merchants, it made sense to find a way to support both the JCC and Pittsburgh-area businesses, explained Cheryl Gerson, a past Big Night chair.
Along with Cathy Reifer, another past Big Night chair, Gerson encouraged Little Night committee members to purchase gift cards from local merchants and then donate those cards to Little Night’s silent auction.
Gerson, Reifer and others purchased gift cards, and received donated gift cards, from merchants in Squirrel Hill, Shadyside, Point Breeze, Highland Park, East Liberty and Garfield.
The businesses range from home goods to restaurants to clothing, and are all owned by independent retailers, said Cathy Samuels, JCC’s chief development and communications officer.
“Because of COVID-19 and the lockdowns, people were extremely careful about congregating, and as a result many of these businesses didn’t get the normal foot traffic, and didn’t do the amount of business they would have done during a regular holiday season,” said Samuels. “We at the JCC, as well as many of our board members and past Big Night chairs, felt strongly that this was a time to support local independent businesses.”
“Supporting these businesses seemed like a nice thing to do,” echoed Gerson.
JCC’s Little Night will be held virtually on Jan. 23. Days earlier, the donated gift cards will be available for bidding during Little Night’s online silent auction.
As in years past, funds raised by the silent auction will support the JCC, which, since March 2020, has faced unusual hardship due to the pandemic, explained Samuels.
Despite periods of closure, the JCC nonetheless continued helping the community by providing a range of services, including blood drives, free virtual programming and meals to combat food insecurity among Allegheny County’s older population.
“The JCC has experienced operating losses during the past 10 months,” said Samuels. The money raised at Little Night will not only help offset those expenses, but ensure “the JCC can keep its doors open in the future.” PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.