YMCA fundraiser hopes to raise $50K for scholarships by noon Friday

John Alexander, CEO of Owensboro Family YMCA.

Poor Santa.

Angry elves recently kidnapped him and sent a ransom note to the Owensboro Family YMCA. The elves are mad about lackluster working conditions.

"We got Santa," their ransom note reads. "We need money for milk n cookies. Hot chocolate, too."

They even posted a video — https://www.facebook.com/OwensboroYMCA/videos/418630112355926/ — of Santa all tied up with a string of holiday lights.

The elves are demanding $50,000 by noon Friday.

"We are on the lookout for the dirty, nasty elves who have done this," said John Alexander, YMCA president and CEO.

The nonprofit came up with the kidnapping hoax as a way to raise money for scholarships. Annually, the YMCA provides about $100,000 in assistance to low-income families to help pay for memberships, summer camps and other programs.

"We've already exceeded $100,000 in the first 10 months of this year," Alexander said.

As a United Way agency, the YMCA can't host fundraisers from Sept. 1 to Nov. 15. As soon as that blackout period ended Friday, the nonprofit was ready to roll out its holiday-themed campaign.

YMCA officials borrowed Multiple Sclerosis' popular Jail 'N' Bail fundraising idea and gave it a seasonal twist, Alexander said.

Families who receive YMCA scholarships must meet eligibility requirements. The nonprofit uses the federal government's poverty guidelines to determine eligibility.

Memberships and programs are not free. Members make partial payments, Alexander said.

Many people think the YMCA receives a steady stream of revenue from its parent organization, the YMCA of the USA. That's not true, he said. The Owensboro Family YMCA is independent and must raise its own operating funds.

Anyone who wants to donate to free Santa from the angry elves may stop by the YMCA's main branch at 900 Kentucky Parkway or call 270-926-9622. The nonprofit is not able to take online pledges at this time.

Renee Beasley Jones, 270-228-2835, rbeasleyjones@messenger-inquirer.com

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