The Columbia Parks and Recreation Department unveiled a poster commemorating the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail on Tuesday to signal the start of the CoMoGives campaign.

Tuesday is the National Day of Giving, and the department celebrated it by unveiling the poster in Walt’s Bike Shop.

The poster is the second installment of a three-part series. The first poster was unveiled in 2018 and the last will be unveiled in 2020, all depicting the trail in different seasons. The first depicted the trail in summer, and the most recent depicted the trail in spring.

The series is part of a larger fundraising effort for the department. The fund was established in 2017 as an endowment fund to sustain and augment parks and recreation in Columbia during difficult economic times, according to a news release.

Becky Stidham, assistant director to the department, said the inspiration for the poster celebrating the trail came from its want of something iconic.

“The posters help us maintain our budgets, especially since sales taxes have been going down,” Stidham said. “Buying a poster is an investment, in a way an investment in Parks and Rec.”

Stidham also said donations can be given in honor of someone. Last year, many people donated in honor of the late Darwin Hindman, former mayor of Columbia and champion of the trail system.

The event had many moving parts but Janet Godon, the event planner for the department, put the poster series into motion by collaborating with local artist David Spear.

“The inclusion of the posters has really increased our presence within CoMoGives,” Godon said. “Last year, we had a goal of $2,000 but after the poster was unveiled, we raised about $10,000 and made about $12,000 overall.”

Department Director Mike Griggs said the goal this year is still going to be a very conservative amount, despite last year’s success.

“We’re a little guarded about what our expectations are for the first night,” Griggs said. “But we’re sure that after people see the poster, they’ll hopefully want to buy one.”

Spear echoed a similar sentiment of cautious optimism.

“It’s nice to work with institutions that I believe in; I think it’s important work,” he said. “It’s rejuvenating.”

Last year’s poster had a significant amount of outreach, especially since Mary Lamberson hung last year’s poster up in Russell Elementary School.

“I got all my friends to buy last year’s poster, so when I got mine, I thought it would look good in the administrative office at Russell,” Lamberson, Russell Elementary secretary, said.

The poster’s popularity has also increased business for Walt’s Bike Shop.

“It’s hard to quantify how CoMoGives impacts our customers,” store Manager Sarah Ashman said. “But we can all agree that this event impacts the thing we, and our customers, care about — Parks and Rec.”

Walt’s Bike Shop hosted the event in addition to providing incentives such as SmartWool socks for donors who give $50 or more.

The department currently ranks ninth on the CoMoGives Leaderboard, with $2,765 raised so far. The campaign will last the entire month of December.

Supervising editor is Kaleigh Feldkamp.

  • Breaking News Reporter, Spring 2019. Studying Investigative Journalism You can reach me at rachel.zalucki@gmail.com, or 882-5700

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