For the last 20 years, the Paxton Challenge for Charities has encouraged community members to donate to their favorite charities and nonprofit organizations. Now entering its third decade, the Challenge is still helping people help others.

A function of the Community Foundation of West Kentucky (CFWK), the Paxton Challenge for Charities raised more than $1 million in 2020 and $1.1 million in 2021. This year’s goal is $1.2 million, and through the first 17 days of the Challenge, $13,235 has been raised.

This year’s Challenge began on June 1 and will run through Aug. 31. A celebration to present the funds to the nonprofit organizations will be held at noon Sept. 8 at Walker Hall.

Participating nonprofit organizations in the 2022 Paxton Challenge for Charities are Beyond Uganda, BLOOM Initiative, The Carson Center for the Performing Arts, Cassidy’s Cause, Child Watch Counseling Advocacy Center, Columbia Theatre, Community Foundation of West Kentucky, Community Kitchen, Easterseals West Kentucky Inc., Family Service Society Inc., Hope Unlimited Family Care Center, Lotus, Market House Theatre, Merryman House Domestic Crisis Center, Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club, Paducah Cooperative Ministry, Paducah-McCracken County Habitat for Humanity, Paducah Public Schools Foundation, Paducah Symphony Orchestra, River Discovery Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Tri-State, Starfish Orphan Ministries and United Way of Paducah-McCracken County.

Those wanting to donate can go to cfwestky.org and click on the donation link for the 2022 Paxton Challenge. Donors are then asked to list the amount they want to donate and the nonprofit organization they want to donate to. Donors may also honor or memorialize someone with their donation.

The Paxton Foundation, established by former Paducah Sun publisher Fred Paxton and his wife, Peggy, provides matching funds through an endowment to the Community Foundation of West Kentucky, which will match donations to a nonprofit organization of $2,500 to $10,000.

“It started as the Fun Run years ago,” said CFWK Chief Executive Officer Tony Watkins. “It used to be the kickoff event to the Paducah Summer Festival. That went by the wayside, but we kept the Fun Run for Charities going. It was a way for the Community Foundation to help the nonprofits out in the community.”

The Summer Festival began in 1967 and ran through 2010, with the event being canceled in 2011.

“When we started it, actually, there were only two running events,” Watkins said. “The last year that we had it, there were 26, so the market was pretty well saturated with running events. Ours was more in the summer, so it got to be more of a task than an enjoyable event.

“We said, ‘OK, let’s just flip this paradigm upside-down. Let’s have it for the donors and use it as a celebration to celebrate what the nonprofits do throughout the year and give them a pat on the back and still give them 90 days to raise the money.’ ”

The CFWK provides a match of $2,500 to $10,000 per organization until $100,000 in matching funds is awarded. It works with donors to create and grow endowment funds that will provide a source of funds for generations to come.

“It’s one of the most reputable special events in western Kentucky,” Watkins said. “We have people from all across the country call and ask about it every year.

“We give every cent raised back to the nonprofits. The Community Foundation really doesn’t make anything out of it other than requiring them to start an endowment fund here at the Foundation and build those relationships with the nonprofits.”

Nonprofit organizations that earn matching funds by bringing in $2,500 or more set up an endowment fund through CFWK.

“One of Mr. Paxton’s stipulations about receiving the match money is they put it into an endowment fund of their own,” Watkins said. “We give 100% of the money that they raise back to them.

“They can use that for operational costs or whatever they want to do. But, the match money was restricted so they could only get the earnings off of that for the future. It kind of forced them to start their own endowment funds. They focus on money they raise today, but also focus on money for tomorrow.”

For more information, contact the Community Foundation of West Kentucky at 270-442-8622 or toll-free at 855-242-CFWK (-2395).

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at facebook.com/sunwithsnow.

Follow David B. Snow on Twitter, @SunWithSnow, or on Facebook at facebook.com/sunwithsnow.

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