People hold signs during the Cha Gives kickoff announcement Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2016 at the Chattanooga Choo Choo. CHA Gives Day will be Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

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Chattanooga nonprofit groups announce #CHAgives Day is Nov. 29


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Red and green trains illuminated with warm Christmas lights delivered the backdrop for the launch of a citywide and global celebration of giving.

Lesley Scearce, president and CEO at United Way of Greater Chattanooga, stood with dozens of local nonprofit group representatives and elected officials Tuesday at the Chattanooga Choo Choo as she announced plans for the second annual #CHAgives kickoff. The event, part of an international day of giving known as #GivingTuesday, will take place the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

"On Tuesday, Nov. 29, our entire community will come together in a great act of generosity," Scearce said. "We're going to join a worldwide movement of 40,000 organizations in 71 countries who believe that it's better to give than to receive."

Causeway, the United Way of Greater Chattanooga and the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga are leading the effort. Their goal is to raise $250,000 for local nonprofit organizations in one day — $150,000 more than the $100,000 raised in 2015, the first year Chattanooga participated in the event. The global observance of #GivingTuesday originated in New York City in 2012.

Abby Garrison, Causeway executive director, said a list of participating nonprofit organizations is available at The site also includes a list of restaurants donating a portion of their proceeds on Nov. 29.

Causeway, located at 16 Patten Parkway, will be the campaign headquarters for the event, and throughout the day, nonprofit organizations will tweet live updates on contributions and goals.

On Tuesday, dozens of nonprofit leaders carried signs at the #CHAgives kickoff to promote their agencies and the event.

Chattanooga Autism Center Executive Director Dave Buck wants to use #CHAgives to be a day for raising awareness about autism, so instead of having a goal for how much people contribute, he's focusing on getting at least 100 people to give any amount on Nov. 29.

And Chattanooga Zoo Development Coordinator Amy Allara said the zoo is $3 million away from its $6 million goal to start construction on the zoo's Africa expansion anticipated in 2018. The exhibit will include lions and giraffes.

Ricardo Morris, the new executive director of the Association for Visual Arts, and Kate Warren, executive director for Art120, came to inspire contributions to their separate organizations. Both want to increase access to art in communities and public schools.

Warren rode near the crowd on her bright green and gold student-made dragon bike.

More than 30 elementary schools in Hamilton County have no art classes, she said, and she wants to raise money to put art programs in schools.

Morris encouraged residents to patronize the Bluff View Art District on Nov. 29, noting that all restaurants and shops will contribute 10 percent of profits to the Association for Visual Arts for its educational art programs.

Mayor Andy Berke said despite images of bickering politicians and other negative stories that make the country seem selfish, it's the people's generosity that makes the nation and city successful.

"The reason we have made strides as a community is not because government has been so great or because private industry was so great," Berke said. " it's because we try to figure out ways to care about each other."

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.