The Ministerial Association Temporary Shelter has launched a virtual fundraising event as a way to have fun and keep people safe and healthy while raising money for its self-sufficiency program for the homeless.

The Virtual Envelope Fundraiser allows participants to purchase an envelope priced anywhere from $10-$100. The 100 individual envelopes add up to $5,000--the goal of the fundraiser.

MATS is asking for donations of gift cards, gift baskets and individual items from local businesses to give away as prizes. The goal is to have enough donations to connect each envelope to a random prize.

At 7 p.m., Saturday, May 30, MATS will go live on Facebook and reveal what each purchaser has won.

The organization had been planning a much larger event before COVID-19 hit, but opted to push the event to next year as social distancing measures persisted. Individual giving during the pandemic has decreased, and without this fundraiser, MATS was looking for new ideas to engage donors.

“I had heard of this idea of people doing ‘virtual fundraisers’ during this time as a way to continue raising money for their organization without gathering a large crowd into one space,” said Lyndsey Sorah, marketing and events coordinator at MATS. “I wanted to find a creative way to do something that would be fun for participants and make a great impact on our budget at the same time.”

Sorah said the idea came to her when she was discussing some facility needs with Executive Director Tonya Polidoro. They had reached out on Facebook to find someone who may be willing to donate services to repaint the building’s soffit, which was in danger of rotting and needing a full replacement, but this had not yet yielded any results.

“So I asked why we didn’t just ask for the money to do it, and the rest of the fundraiser stemmed from that,” Sorah said.

Those who are interested in participating in the Virtual Envelope Fundraiser can purchase envelopes one of three ways: online through the link on the MATS Facebook Page or website (matstn.com,) over the phone, or in person at MATS. If you would like to purchase in person, please call 423-587-9215 when you arrive, as MATS is still being very cautious with visitors to the shelter.

For more information about MATS visit www.matstn.com.