When the pandemic hit in March 2020 and Gov. Larry Hogan (R) ordered Marylanders to stay home, single mother of two Lisa Tolomei settled into her Chesapeake Beach home office. Her daughters Caitlyn and Emily weren’t so lucky. The day after Lisa started working from home, Caitlyn was laid off and the day after that, Emily lost her job. All three are part-time students at the College of Southern Maryland.

“Caitlyn had just signed a six-month lease on an apartment and her plan was to continue school full time, work and start a life with her future husband,” Lisa Tolomei said. “Everything changed in an instant. Her getting laid off meant I needed to assist in paying her bills, making sure she had tuition, rent, car insurance, etc. Emily was planning to start CSM this fall, and she was working to save money for a car. All of our plans and savings got sidelined by COVID almost overnight.”

But Lisa and Caitlyn soon learned they would be receiving financial assistance from CSM through CARES Act funding and CSM’s ‘Help a Hawk’ scholarship, an emergency fund established to help ease the burdens of pandemic-driven unemployment and fatigue; and to keep existing CSM students enrolled.

“I was awarded the Help a Hawk scholarship and it helped me so much,” said Caitlyn Tolomei. “Suddenly, I was furloughed and living off of unemployment and occasionally watching my godson. I had no clue how I was going to pay my bills, let alone my school needs. Thanks to the scholarship, I was able to pay for my classes and books and stay in school this fall. I am so grateful.”

“No student should have to choose between affording to live and affording to learn,” said CSM Foundation acting executive director Chelsea Clute. “That is why Dec. 1 on GivingTuesday, we are asking for the public’s show of solidarity and support for our CSM students and we are asking them to help replenish our Help a Hawk fund. The pandemic is far from over and we are asking our communities to help us, help our students until they can get back on their feet.”

GivingTuesday is a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

Created in 2012 as a simple idea: GivingTuesday is a 24-hour giving event that encourages people to do good by giving, collaborating, and celebrating generosity.

The Help A Hawk Fund provides aid to CSM students experiencing financial hardship and began in March 2020 as a Student Emergency Fund in response to COVID-19. To date, the CSM Foundation has raised $148,000 in support of students impacted financially by COVID-19. More than $120,000 has been awarded to 378 students thanks to the foundation’s Help a Hawk efforts. Continued contributions will replenish the fund and provide direct relief to students in the form of Hawk Feeder care packages; tuition assistance; and technology and educational supplies.

Donors of the CSM Foundation have already pledged to match 2020 GivingTuesday gifts, dollar for dollar and those who make a donation during CSM’s ‘Power Hours’ of 8 to 9 a.m., noon to 1 p.m. or 6 to 7 p.m. will entered into a prize drawing.

For more information on Giving Tuesday at CSM, go to https://foundation.csmd.edu/news-events/giving-tuesday-2020j=69503061&sfmc_sub=1070123979&l=7667323_HTML&u=727493720&mid=10184794&jb=0.

The ARC Southern Maryland hoping to fix home

During GivingTuesday, the Arc Southern Maryland is planning to repair and renovate bathrooms.

Its Dunkirk House is home to four men, one of whom has increasing mobility issues and there fore is able to only access a 20-plus-year-old year old sink and toilet.

It will cost $16,250 to replace and reconfigure the bathroom components, tile, and widen the door and hallway for wheel chair access and the organization is hoping to raise $7,000 during the annual event.

For more information, go to https://arcsomd.org/donate-now/.

Charles libraries planning more hot spots

Because almost 30% of its users do not have home internet, Charles County Public Libraries is hoping to raise funds for the addition of 100 new mobile hotspots by the end of the year.

For more information, go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=21AoYZF3MGs.

NTP players planning upgrades

The New Towne Players community theater in Lexington Park is hoping to renovate its bathroom facilities and donations received during Giving Tuesday will go toward the purchase of materials. The theater, which was also recently awarded a bond bill, has a goal of $5,000 and any excess will go toward upgrades to the heating and cooling system and upgrading the flooring in the hallway and lobby.

For more information, go to www.newtowneplayers.org/donate.