Vermillion area residents now have a chance to donate toward the completion of community projects for literally pennies a month.
On June 4 the city council approved a program called Round Up For Your Community, which was presented by the Vermillion Area Community Foundation (VACF).
Under this program, residents have the option of rounding up their utility bills to the nearest dollar, donating the extra money to the VACF's endowment fund.
"The more money that gets put into that endowment, the more money that spins off every year that can be used toward community projects," said VACF secretary Lisa Ketcham. "This program was just a wonderful way that people can give at a very minor level, but in multitudes."
The maximum a single person can donate for an entire year is $11.88, or 99 cents per month.
"If you can get hundreds or thousands of people doing that, that would make a huge difference," Ketcham said. "We wanted a way to provide an opportunity for as many people in our community to be aware of our organization and have an opportunity to give back … no matter what their income or ability is to give."
A pilot group of approximately 30 people tested the system for the June 20 billing cycle, and the program is open to everyone as of the July 20 cycle.
City finance officer Mike Carlson said 60 people had signed up as of Monday.
Ketcham said she has heard "nothing but positive feedback" regarding the program.
"People are (saying), 'This is a no-brainer for $11.88 a year maximum,'" she said. "And that's assuming that your billing is a .01 every month and it's going to go to 99 cents.
"Most people on average are going to be looking at 50 cents a month," she said.
The program is based on part on one being used in Mitchell, except that is exclusively for educational scholarships.
"We kind of modeled it on that, only we decided to open it up through the foundation with just a single focus, to make the community better," Ketcham said.
Making the community better is the primary aim of the VACF, which was founded in 2000 to create an endowed fund to build financial resources that aren't depleted each year that can be used to assist with projects that address community needs.
Some of the projects toward which the VACF has contributed include the purchase of new playground equipment at Prentis Park, making classroom renovations at the Vermillion Area Arts Council, the expansion of the Vermillion Public Library and the purchase of the clock for Ratingen Platz.
This project is similar in its philosophy, Ketcham said.
"We kind of think about it as a legacy project for Vermillion, because the money that goes in today will be there forever, and it spins back every year," she said. "The bigger that we grow that endowment fund, the more we're able to invest back in the community."
To enroll in Round Up For Your Community, visit http://vermillion.sdcommunityfoundation.org or www.vermillion.us, or by picking up a form at the Vermillion Area Chamber & Development Company or the city finance office.
The utility bills will be rounded up automatically. Citizens can stop participating at any time.