Sept. 21 2011 12:00 AM

Three local charities are competing in an online Art Van challenge for grant money.

Lansing area residents have a chance to make a difference in the local community — and it only takes one click.

Three charities are competing for a
chance to win a second grant from the third annual Art Van Charity
Challenge. The challenge awarded $1 million in money to charities in
the form of grants ranging from $5,000 to $50,000 to 50 Michigan
nonprofits in the children, health and human services areas earlier
this month.  The challenge
is now holding a competition for the chosen charities to earn three
additional grants of $10,000, $15,000 and $25,000. The three charities
who receive the most votes on the challenge’s website will receive
additional funds.

The Greater Lansing Housing Coalition
has already received a $20,000 grant from the challenge. The
organization plans to use the grant to help preserve its Tuesday
Toolmen program, which had previously run out of funding, said
executive director Katherine Draper. 

The program consists of a group of
senior volunteers, all of whom are skilled tradesmen, who go out into
the community and do free home repairs and modifications, said Tim
Nester, communications and media coordinator for the GLHC. The program
is available to qualifying seniors and disabled residents, most of whom
have little or no mobility and are unable to repair the homes
themselves, he added.  Repairs
provided by the program allow residents to stay in their homes, rather
than be moved to nursing facilities. Despite receiving the grant, the
GLHC still needs $40,000 to continue the program. Earning an additional
grant would put the organization within a comfortable reach of
continuing the program, Nester said.

East Lansing-based Haven House is also
competing in the challenge. Haven House provides temporary housing for
homeless families as they transition to more permanent homes. The
organization received a $25,000 grant from the challenge. Calls asking
how the money will be allocated were not returned. 

The third charity participating in the
challenge is Lansing’s Hannah’s House. Hannah’s House provides housing,
food, clothing and mentoring to homeless mothers and their newborn
children.  The organization,
which has already received a grant of $5,000, helps the women learn
life and parenting skills so they can break the cycle of homelessness,
said Peggy Goffin, president of the Hannah’s House board. The
organization will use the additional grant to continue with the
operation of their home, added Goffin.

The biggest obstacle in receiving the
additional grants is that many of the other charities are in heavily
populated areas, like Grand Rapids and Detroit, Nester said. Local
charities need Lansing area residents to rally together and help them
get the grants, he added. 

“The cooperation from the community is
what will make a difference in our agency being able to receive these
funds,” said Draper. “I’m really hopeful that they would consider
supporting the effort.” The GLHC’s ultimate goal is to see the
community prosper, added Draper. 

To vote for the charities, visit Individuals can vote once a day through Sept. 30.  Individuals can also contribute money to the charity of their choice through the website.