It’s official – Casa Grande has been named to the list of top 25 most giving cities in the United States by a recent release from Travelocity. According to the article, the list was compiled by analyzing thousands of social media postings, tracking such phrases as donate or volunteer to see which communities discussed charitable activities the most online.
Described by Travelocity as “a small town with a big heart”, Casa Grande ranked 14th, behind both Washington D.C and Los Angeles. The only other community named in Arizona was Tucson, which came in at 23rd.
Travelocity cited the Ride for the Warrior music festival and motorcycle rally which donated the proceeds to benefit the Pinal County Veterans Memorial Foundation.
This announcement comes as no surprise to those who call Casa Grande home. Casa Grande has always been generous about helping those in need and supporting local charities. Recent examples include last April’s Arizona Gives Day where Seeds of Hope raised over $63,000 in just 24 hours. Against Abuse has two annual events – the Taste of Casa Grande and the Seeds of Change Gala. Both events raise funds to support the organization’s domestic violence shelters. Dozens of additional organizations also raise funds to help those in need or to provide services.
There is another side to the local generosity as well – the quiet and consistent efforts to help individuals. On any given day, skim through the posts on two local Facebook groups – CG Chat and Helping Others in Need. There, you will find someone seeking assistance with a food box, utilities, medical or funeral expenses. One name comes up frequently: Andy Salazar and Caring Hands of Pinal County.
Andy helps in so many ways, from the back-to-school backpack drive to starting a secondary food bank for emergency food boxes, to delivering sandwiches to the homeless and helping them with clothing and toiletries. This year was the 10th Annual Christmas Toy Drive. Andy doesn’t do it alone. Hundreds of children have experienced the wonder of Christmas morning, thanks to the efforts of volunteers and sponsors, rallying together for the cause. And speaking of toy drives – this year was the 30th year for the Casa Grande Toy Parade and Auction, led by Dennis Beye, with the proceeds going to the Casa Grande Salvation Army. And let’s not forget another group that volunteers every year to ring the Salvation Army bells during the December Kettle Drive – the Western Pinal Association of Realtors.
And if any organization needs a location to gather, assemble or drop-off items, Julie Mikkelsen at the Airport Tavern is the first to say, “I’ll help.” Also, if there is a dog in need, Julie is the proverbial stray magnet!
From the physicians and nurses who volunteer at the free clinic, to the dentists who provide free services to area children and to the mechanic who fixes the single mom’s car so she can get to work and to the many people who slip a few bucks to the cashier for the person in front of them at the grocery store that was short of funds, to the winter visitors that volunteer thousands of hours at so many local organizations, the list is endless in the ways our local people help each other.
As Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There’s no place like home.” There is no place like Casa Grande.