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  • Giselle Smith

GIVING TUESDAY: Elizabethtown Gives

What better day to share our cover feature than Giving Tuesday? After all of the hustle and bustle of shopping this weekend, there is no better time to remember the reason for the season. #GivingTuesday is so much more than an Instagram holiday: It's the day communities come together to give back to those less fortunate. If 2020 has taught us anything, we have learned that everything can change in the blink of an eye. So many of us have so much to be grateful for, and giving back is a huge factor in the prosperity in Hardin County. In this feature, Etown native, Carl Swope gives a look into our generous community, and we have the pleasure of showcasing over a dozen local non-profits. Cheers to giving back Elizabethtown! Heartwarming photos by much-loved Elaina Janes Photography.

A Message from carl swope:

Elizabethtown is a giving community. We have a rich history of philanthropy dating back to the earliest days of the Severns Valley settlement and extending into this age of Covid. This legacy of giving has spawned numerous charities and support agencies that provide for every kind of basic need, promote arts and culture, provide quality educational opportunities for youth and adults alike, and enhance our truly world-class medical systems that are the envy of cities much larger than Elizabethtown. And our giving comes in every form and at every level. Yes, people here give generously of their time, talent, and their treasure.

Carl Swope, Local Philanthropist
Dr. Robert Robbins and Mrs. Rita Robbins, Local Philanthropists

We are blessed to have excellent nonprofit support organizations, such as the United Way of Central Kentucky and the Central Kentucky Community Foundation. Through workplace campaigns, United Way generates as much as a million dollars of charitable contributions each year and invests in over 20 local agencies that provide health and basic needs, education, and financial stability to thousands of people in our community. Many of these agencies simply would not exist without this vital support. And thanks to United Way, a simple call to 211 will connect anyone in need to a vast array of support services throughout our region. Likewise, the Central Kentucky Community Foundation helps individuals and families plan and implement their short- and long-term philanthropic goals. They have the expertise to assist in the full spectrum of charitable giving, from basic donor-advised funds to complex endowments that have a lasting impact on the quality of life in Elizabethtown and beyond. Educational scholarships are a particular focus of our community foundation with scores of awards made each year to local students pursuing a broad range of educational pursuits. And if the word philanthropist conjures up images of old grey men, think again; Heels Together is a foundation initiative that is bringing together women of all ages to empower and improve the lives of women and girls in our community.

Our faith communities and civic organizations also give generously with both time and money, and they have a major impact on the quality of life in our community. Many of our churches work together with Warm Blessings each winter on a program, Room in the Inn, that ensures the homeless in our midst have a hot meal and a warm place to sleep when the temperatures drop. Our churches also send volunteers to build houses with Habitat for Humanity and stuff backpacks with food at Feeding America. And Elizabethtown’s culture of giving stretches around the globe. Since 2008, the Noon Rotary Club has partnered with First Presbyterian Church to bring clean water to the indigenous people of Guatemala. To date, they have installed 28 water purification systems and brought health and wellbeing to over 75,000 Guatemalans. The AM Rotary Club has a similar partnership with Memorial Methodist to bring clean water to Haiti.

It was the Elizabethtown Lions Club that provided the inspiration and early fundraising that built Hardin Memorial Hospital. Hardin Memorial has grown significantly in both size and reach since the first 61 patient facility was opened in 1954. Today, it serves a 10 county region and over 10% of Kentucky’s population. In 2015, under the leadership of Senator Joe Prather, the Hardin Memorial Health Foundation renewed its commitment to help equip Hardin Memorial Hospital to provide the finest healthcare possible right here in Elizabethtown. Over 6 million dollars has been raised to help fund specialties and vital services such as the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), pet therapy, and others. In recent days, we witnessed Hardin Memorial fully integrate with Baptist Heath and become Baptist Health Hardin, a move that will ensure that extraordinary healthcare services will be centered in Elizabethtown for years to come. But none of this would have happened had it not been for those early contributors like the Lions Club and giving nature of our community.

In normal times, Elizabethtown is buzzing with fun and unique events that support a wide range of good works and community-building initiatives. We Walk to End Alzheimer’s and to support the March of Dimes. We have formal Teas to support Hosperus and dinners where we honor outstanding citizens while supporting Habitat for Humanity and the Boy Scouts. We have charitable auctions for the Community Health Clinic and CASA; and we play golf to support our local police, our chamber, and the Association of the United States Army. We even test drive new cars to support our local schools. Sadly, most of these events had to be canceled this year due to COVID, but the needs remain. We all hope that next year will be different; but in the meantime, these agencies and efforts need your support more than ever. Take a moment to look back at your own giving over the years and write some checks. The events will be back before you know it.

So many Elizabethtown families and individuals have demonstrated selfless giving of time and treasure over the years. Marvin and Joyce Benjamin established the Benjamin Fund with a 2 million dollar gift from their estate. Managed by the Central Kentucky Community Foundation, the purpose of this fund is to fight hatred, bigotry, and anti-Semitism. When Dr. Robert Robbins and his wife, Rita, recently donated 1 million to ECTC to help jump-start the University Center, Dr. Robbins told those in the room, “it’s not about what you do for yourself, it’s what you do for others that makes you really happy.” The couple followed shortly after with an even larger gift to the Hardin Memorial Health Foundation. These are examples for us to learn from and to follow. There are many others too numerous to mention who also know the joy of selfless giving and make our community a better place for everyone.

Yes, Elizabethtown is a giving community; and our philanthropists come in all ages, genders, cultures, beliefs, and stations in life. All that’s needed is a desire to do something good for the place we call home.

ON The Cover: Hardin Memorial Health Foundation

Imagine you just delivered a baby. Doctors and nurses are hurrying to take care of you and the newest member of your family. You haven’t held your baby. The nurses are reassuring, but you can tell that your baby needs something. It’s a new mom’s worst nightmare. Five years ago, before there was a fully operational Level II Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Hardin Memorial Health, now Baptist Health Hardin, babies who needed higher-level care had to be quickly stabilized and prepared for the hour-long ride to Louisville. Since new mothers had to remain admitted, these fragile babies often made the journey alone and remained separated from their mother until she was discharged.

The stress of that separation created unnecessary anguish and often high expenses not only for mothers but also for the entire family and extended family.

Happily today, thanks to the Hardin Memorial Health Foundation (HMHF) and support from countless donors and grantees, families can stay close to home while their newborn receives care from two neonatologists, available 24/7, and specifically trained NICU nurses. Also, babies who need to be born at a higher level facility can return to our local NICU for their last weeks of care. This option means families can return to work sooner and have their growing babies nearby for more frequent visits during NICU stays, which can be several weeks in length. Since 2015, 700+ babies and families have stayed together at home. The Level II NICU is just one example of how HMHF makes care better for patients. Since 2015, HMHF, led by 25 community and business leaders from across Central Kentucky, raised nearly $6 million for the NICU, Cancer Care, Pediatric Therapy, Emergency Services, a COVID-19 Emergency Fund, and other patient benefits.

To learn more about our independent, philanthropic Foundation and how your donation can directly impact patients at Baptist Health Hardin, visit


Habitat for Humanity

Hardin County Habitat For Humanity began in 1992. Over the past 26 years, we have built 72 homes in Hardin County for families in need. Through shelter, we empower, and our vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Affordable homeownership helps create the conditions that free families from instability, stress, and fear. Decent, affordable shelter provides families with a place to gather and grow. Families in need of shelter are not different from us but are just like us. Their needs, dreams, and values are not different from ours, and with just a little help, they can achieve the positive outcomes made possible by having a strong roof over their heads and a solid foundation under their feet.

Habitat is not a “Hand Out”, but rather a “Hand Up”. Our families help build their homes, attend financial training, and purchase homes with a mortgage based on their income.

For more information visit


Elizabethtown Education Foundation

Long gone are the days when education could be summed up by three words—reading, writing, and arithmetic. Today, classrooms from Kindergarten to high school are a mashup of learning, technology, art, and social engagement. All the while, teachers are juggling increased demands from all directions - learning expectations from students, ever-changing education requirements, and decreased funding for classroom needs.

This is where the Elizabethtown Education Foundation (EEF) comes in to help meet classroom needs and support teachers, students, and classrooms. EEF is a private, independent, nonprofit corporation dedicated to raising funds from private sources to enrich educational programs and learning in the Elizabethtown Independent School District. EEF accepts funding requests from Elizabethtown teachers and administrators across the district for a wide range of educational needs, including technology, curriculum programs, books, and tactile resources. All grant requests are reviewed by the district and school administrators. From there, board members and supporters seek donations to fill all the needs identified.

“We understand that inheriting the tradition of excellence is not a privilege,” said Mika Tyler, EEF Board Chair. “It is our responsibility as alumni, employees, parents, and community to ensure that all Elizabethtown students have access to the technology and resources they need to succeed.”

Since 2012, EEF has raised more than $550,000 for Elizabethtown classrooms. To learn more about EEF, visit


Silverleaf Trauma Recovery Services

Silverleaf is a growing non-profit that serves the 8 counties of the Lincoln Trail ADD. Today, we employ 15 full-time and 8 part-time passionate staff. We are governed by a dedicated board of 9 members. Plus, we have several fantastic volunteers.

Silverleaf serves ALL individuals impacted by sexual violence—regardless of age or when the sexual violence occurred. We serve individuals who were assaulted hours, days, and years ago. And, all of our services are FREE. We can provide support and treatment to victims, siblings, and family members (as long as they are not an alleged offender). We recognize that trauma impacts the whole family, so we do our best to offer information and resources to everyone involved.

In October, Silverleaf will be having an online raffle for a set of Pappy VanWinkle bourbon! The drawing will take place on Saturday, Nov 14th. For details and how to purchase tickets, check out our website:

We appreciate donations of every amount at Silverleaf. Donors can be assured that every dollar goes toward supporting survivors and prevention efforts to eradicate sexual violence in our communities. Folks can find a “donate” button right on our website. For those wishing to donate their time and talents, we welcome those too! You can email us directly at


Clarity Solutions

Since 2001, Clarity Solutions has been providing hope for thousands of women and men who have found themselves in unplanned pregnancy situations. Through free and confidential medical services, mentoring and education, and the provision of material resources, Clarity provides real solutions for the obstacles vulnerable women and families face in an unplanned pregnancy. Clarity is fully funded by the generosity of their supporters. Because of financial support, material donations, and volunteer hours given by so many in our community, Clarity is able to save lives and transform families.

Clarity has dedicated volunteers that come weekly or monthly and help with mentoring, teaching classes, answering phones and other clerical work, working in the baby boutique processing donations and helping clients shop for material goods, and more! Sometimes volunteers help with occasional projects like mailings and events, or groups that come to clean, do handiwork, or landscaping. There is always a place to volunteer at Clarity!

For more information about how you can give and volunteer, visit Or, if you or someone you know is involved in an unplanned pregnancy situation, Clarity can help! Go to www. or call 270-234-1122 to set up an appointment.


The Lincoln Trail Home Builders Association

The Lincoln Trail Home Builders Association is a 501(c)(6) membership-based nonprofit organization founded in 1974 to promote and advance the home building industry across central Kentucky. Through our members and Registered Builders & Remodelors, the LTHBA provides an outlet for connecting prospective clients with businesses across the industry, from ground-up construction or renovation to capital and supplies. Member businesses enjoy benefits including advertising, community events, and insurance & product discounts with participating companies.

Our Registered Builders & Remodelors program is an application-based, committee-vetted source for hiring builders and contractors that have passed set qualifications for product sourcing, procedures, financial standing, and customer satisfaction, among others. Visit our website to browse the Registered Builder directory, or tour a selection of their recent projects in our annual Parade of Homes, October 23-25.

Address: 911 N. Mulberry Ave. Elizabethtown KY 42701


Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter

Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter (FOHCAS) was formed in January 2014 to support the Hardin County Animal Shelter. We help by providing materials and equipment that are outside of the shelter’s budget and partial support of the shelter’s full-time vet, establishing a medical fund to provide veterinary care to injured and sick shelter pets, and educating the community about responsible pet ownership. Our mission includes a low-cost spay/neuter assistance program and support for the shelter’s community cat initiative to help reduce the number of unwanted animals in Hardin County.

100% of the donations to Friends of Hardin County Animal Shelter are used to fulfill our mission. We have no paid employees, just volunteers willing to work for the pets of our county. Anyone can be involved! Volunteers that are 14 or older can be trained to help at the shelter with animals. Other volunteer opportunities include helping with events, rescue transport, fundraising, and much more.

To get involved, email Find more details or donate at and check us out on Facebook and Instagram


Heels Together

What happens when you bring together lots of women? Laughter, fun, and food of course. But with Heels Together you also get a big helping of Impact. A component of Central Kentucky Community Foundation, Heels Together is a women-led initiative uniting money, ideas, and actions to create lasting change for women and girls, their families, and community. How do they do it? Heels Together investors hear directly from grant applicants and each investor gets to vote on the project they think best supports Heels Together’s mission. To make this impact, women invest in Heels Together, making an annual gift of $1,000. Half of the gift is set aside in an endowment to forever carryout the Heels Together mission and half goes to the annual grant-making.

Why help women and girls? Nearly 1/5 of adult women in Kentucky live in poverty. Many of them are raising children. Investing in women and girls makes a difference.In five years, Heels Together made $110,000 in grants for projects like STEM exploration and mentoring for girls, life skills for self-sufficiency, and job access for women. Funding projects to address these issues and improve individual lives strengthens our community. Together, we unite money, ideas, and actions to create lasting change for women and their families.

If you would like to be part of changing lives for women and girls, go to or email or call 270-737-8393.


CASA of the Heartland

CASA of the Heartland is a 501(c)(3) organization that started in Hardin County in 2007. They recruit, train, and manage a network of Court Appointed Special Advocate community volunteers who donate their time to help abused and neglected children as they navigate the Family Court system. These kids are primarily within the Hardin County and Fort Knox area.

Initially, as they began their work, CASA served 12 children and today serves over 100 children annually. As Hardin County continues to rank higher than most counties in Kentucky for child neglect and abuse cases, so does the need for more CASA volunteers. Today, CASA is advocating for 104 children. However, there is, unfortunately, a wait list of 90-plus kids who are waiting for someone to be their voice during a vulnerable time in their lives. These 90 purple chairs on the lawn represent those children, children waiting for their advocate.

If you are interested in donating your time to a child in need or want to learn more about CASA, call 270-982-2274, or go to their website:


Down Syndrome Association of the Heartland

Down Syndrome Association of the Heartland (DSAH) is an organization that offers support to individuals with Down syndrome, as well as their families, friends, caregivers, teachers, and coworkers. Furthermore, we strive to educate the public-at-large about Down syndrome. It is the desire of Down Syndrome Association of the Heartland for every individual who has been touched by Down syndrome, regardless of age, to have access to support and services that would aid each individual in reaching his or her individual potential. It's our goal to live and work in a community that embraces, supports, and inspires individuals with Down syndrome to live healthy, self-determined, and fulfilling lives. DSAH serves all that are touched by Down Syndrome in Hardin and our surrounding counties (Larue, Meade, Hart, Grayson, Breckinridge, and Nelson)

DSAH is funded primarily through our special events, such as our largest event which is our Buddy Walk held every fall in October for Down Syndrome Awareness month. Other sources of revenue include donations and foundation support. DSAH is self-sustaining. We are not affiliated with United Way or any other funding source. The funds we raise remain in our local community. Our 3rd Annual Buddy Walk will still be held this year although it will be virtual. We are doing a 21-day event this year which represents the 21st chromosome from October 10-31. It's not too late to become involved in our event! If you would like to set up a team for an individual with Down Syndrome or if you would like to donate for this event you can go to

Also, check our website to find out more about us and look under the tab "Ways to Give" for other ways to become involved including our Club 21 monthly sponsorship at, find us on Facebook or contact our Support Coordinator Tonya House at or (270)312-1540!


Mission Hope For Kids

Mission Hope For Kids is a local afterschool mentorship program that cares for disadvantaged students who need additional support. Our approach is holistic; we understand that to reach their full potential, children need physical, mental, emotional, educational, and spiritual care. In application, this means partnering our students with caring adults, giving academic help, providing snacks and meals, offering recreational activities, opening our onsite clothing closet to students and their families, teaching moral and spiritual lessons, and so much more.

Our mission is to change the course of our students’ lives, and we would not be able to accomplish this without the support of our donors. People from all walks of life come together to invest in the lives of our children each month. Donating to MHFK is easy, secure, and helps us to care for 200 local kids!

Go to our website to support a child today.


United Way of Central Kentucky

United Way of Central Kentucky fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community. United Way solves complex challenges by forging partnerships and mobilizing resources. We find solutions to problems that no one organization can address alone. United, we empower individuals and families to reach their fullest potential. Serving Hardin, Breckinridge, Grayson, LaRue, and Meade Counties, United Way of Central Kentucky creates a better life for all.

Due to COVID-19 our signature fund-raiser, Power of the Purse was canceled. Power of the Purse supports early childhood education initiatives throughout our service area by auctioning beautiful designer handbags filled with luxurious prizes. With 51% of the children in our region beginning kindergarten unprepared, the $23,000 raised at last year’s event went on to benefit United Way of Central Kentucky’s Born Learning Academies and further the impact of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library in Hardin County.

For more information on United Way of Central Kentucky, to get involved or to donate, contact Hunter Roberts at or visit the website at


Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland

One in seven people and one in five children are at risk of going hungry in Kentucky. Feeding America, Kentucky’s Heartland (FAKH) is a regional Feeding America network food bank that distributes over 19 million pounds of food throughout 42 counties, in central, south-central, and western Kentucky. FAKH serves over 223,000 people annually by acquiring and distributing donated food, grocery items, and government commodities through our 230 plus member network of Partner Agencies like food pantries, soup kitchens, and other non-profit agencies.

FAKH is a private non-profit organization that depends on cost-sharing, grants, and donations from individuals and businesses to cover operational and program expenses. By leveraging our network connections and buying power, we acquire nine pounds of food with each dollar spent.

Together, we can end hunger one helping at a time. Whether you volunteer, donate funds, or advocate for hunger relief, your actions count. Visit


Give 270

In a time when we are facing a world-wide pandemic, double hurricanes, murder hornets, and zombie fires, we can all confidently say that things have changed. The same can be said about philanthropy in Central Kentucky.

Traditional philanthropy serves an important place in supporting needs in our community. However, many people and organizations are looking for innovative, nimble, and creative ways to raise money that appeal to a younger, more diverse demographic who are civic-minded and want engaging ways to give back. Give 270 seeks to fill just such a need.

Give 270 launched in 2016 as a new way to engage potential donors and provide a simple, user-friendly platform to crowdsource and crowdfund unmet needs in our community. Today, the nonprofit raises funds in a variety of ways to connect the community with non-profit organizations and venture philanthropy projects.

Online Giving Mosaic allows donors to give to designated programs while being recognized for their support.

Special events like the Kentucky Craft Beer Festival and The Eric and Joe Show serve as engaging fundraisers for multiple audiences with the common theme of supporting area organizations.

Crowdfunding campaigns for local nonprofits provide the resources and social media content to meet the needs of the campaign.

Raffles are the organization’s latest foray into fundraising and allow new audiences to actively support local nonprofits.

To learn more about Give 270, visit



Greenspace is a local 501c3 non-profit environmental and conservation organization that is celebrating its 46th year anniversary. Greenspace was founded in 1974 with the goal of preserving the natural spaces along the creeks and streams in and around Elizabethtown. Today, Greenspace maintains over 30 miles of trails and natural spaces for community enjoyment, relaxation, recreation, and conservation. Recently Greenspace has added 8 miles of single track mountain bike and hiking trails to Buffalo Lake, the new 500-seat Emerald Cathedral Amphitheater at Freeman Lake, and has helped earn Elizabethtown the title of “Kentucky’s First Urban Trail Town.” Future plans include working with partners to bring a covered bridge to the Freeman Lake Trail, a community concert series in the Emerald Cathedral, landing a national mountain bike race in 2021, a “Rails to Trails” project, and a nationally released conservation film with Sampley Brothers Productions highlighting our collaborative community conservation efforts through the years. We look forward to seeing you on the trails.

For more information and trail maps plus tips for hiking in Hardin County, visit


First48 Financial Education Alliance

Alex Todd has been teaching Personal Finance for 23 years now. One of the common comments he hears from adults is “I wish I has that class when I was in high school.” First48 Financial Education Alliance is a local non-profit based in Hardin County. Many know Alex Todd and Jimmy Schmidt as educators and coaches, but the duo have been working behind the scenes on a mission to provide common sense, agenda-free financial education for people in all walks of life.

They want to give this knowledge to high school students across the state for FREE. The non-profit is raising dollars to provide workbooks and video trainings for teachers and students across the Bluegrass State at no cost to schools. Together with board members Al Rider, Austin Todd, and Justin Jenkins, they have reached non-profit status and are kicking off fundraising efforts this season.

To learn more or for opportunities to get involved, visit

Thanks so much for reading along! If you don't already, check out our social media pages for more info on local happenings including ways to give back in the community on Facebook or Instagram! We would love to see how you're giving back this #givingtuesday and all season long, so be sure to tag us and use the hashtag #elizabethtownlifestyle. Beyond blessed to be a part of your community Hardin County.

Give back Elizabethtown!

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