By Cristin Ross

cross@jacksonvilleprogress.com

Raising money for HOPE is now as easy as type, click, surf.

Internet buffs can put their passion to good use and help generate operating revenue for HOPE (Helping Others Pursue Enrichment) Inc. by using the GoodSearch.com search engine as they surf the World Wide Web and by shopping online via GoodShop.com. HOPE is now registered with both sites, so now Cherokee County citizens can help support the organization while shopping online, searching for obscure sports trivia or looking for a job.

“We’re thrilled to be able to take advantage of what technology can offer us,” HOPE Executive Director Fran Daniel said. “This is one of the simplest ways our communities can help us, and it doesn’t cost them a thing!”

GoodSearch.com, powered by Yahoo!, donates 50 percent of its advertising revenue — about a penny a search — to the charities and organizations designated by its users. Another venue, GoodShop.com, local consumers can shop hundreds of popular retailers, like Amazon, Target, Apple, Macy’s and Best Buy, and get 37 percent of their purchase price donated to the cause of their choice.

“We know there are a lot of people who want to do good but may not have the time or the money to help out,” said Ken Ramburg, co-founder of GoodSearch. “GoodSearch and GoodShop make it as easy as possible. We’ve taken something people do every day — searching the Internet and shopping online — and have turned it into doing good.”

More than 72,000 nonprofit organizations and schools are now registered with GoodSearch and more than 100 other entities are registering daily.

But does it make a difference? Site officials reported last year the ASPCA raised more than $23,000; the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, more than $10,000.

“Every penny counts,” Daniel said. “Just 500 people searching four times a day could earn about $7,300 a year.

“That’s $7,300 on top of what our neighbors take out of their own pockets each year. There is absolutely no reason not to use GoodSearch and GoodShop — it’s so easy.”

HOPE operates programs such as the Brown Bag program, which supplies food to elderly and disabled homebound individuals in Cherokee County; the Soup Kitchen, which in 2007 served 17,852 hot meals to anyone needing one; the Backpack Program, which provides nutritionally challenged children with meals for the weekends; and the Manna Pantry, which served 1,588 people with emergency food assistance last year.

“But we’re more than just the Soup Kitchen,” board member Charlie Harris said. “We have 21 programs all together that help people with the costs of prescriptions, with medical issues like diabetes and even with rides to the doctor’s office.”

HOPE’s Partners in Health program helped 56 local citizens connect with a primary healthcare physician in 2007. The center’s Prescription Assistance Program added 37 new clients to its on-going medication programs offered by pharmaceutical companies as well as continued to serve 143 regular clients.

Last year, HOPE assisted 876 local people and answered 1,737 calls for referrals for resources. Twenty people received fire victim assistance through HOPE and 601 items of warm clothing and blankets were distributed.

The organization also provides van service take clients to and from doctors’ office visits.

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