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Local Nonprofits Compete for Votes to Win $15,000

Act II Community Theater, based in St. Peters, had the lead. Voting in the contest, sponsored by Monsanto, ends Oct. 16.

Sheri Hogan has never been shy to ask for help when there's a need, and during the past several weeks, she's called on many friends to help  win $15,000 in Monsanto's Grow St. Louis Contest.

Monsanto is giving away $15,000, $10,000 and $5,000 to the three top vote-getters in an online contest looking for the best projects to help grow the St. Louis area.

People can vote for an organization 100 times a day with one email address. And voting 100 times only takes 7 minutes, Hogan says.

"I just sent an email to everyone in the email address book, 'I need you guys to vote 100 times every day,'" said Hogan, a board member for the St. Peters-based theater group.

Many area groups are trying to rally their supporters in hopes of winning the prize. Act II Community Theater was, as of Thursday afternoon, in first place in the competition with 503,621 votes, beating Stray Rescue of St. Louis and TouchPoint Autism Services.

A winner will be announced on Monsanto's website on Oct. 24.

The group has been around for 18 years and now performs four times a year at  in a space that used to be city council chambers. If the group wins, they will use the money to defray the cost of renting the space and improving the lighting, said Hogan.

Hogan said Act II Community Theater contributes to the entire St. Louis region.  "We bring people from all over St. Louis into St. Peters and St. Peters into St. Louis," she said. "It's a wonderful marriage."

Community Living, Inc. (CLI) which is based in St. Charles, is also vying for votes for the 2012 Walk, Run N' Roll for for people with developmental disabilities event which raises awareness and funding for people throughout St. Charles and St Louis communities.

CLI was in ninth place as of Thursday afternoon with 126,494 votes and was aiming for third place by Oct. 15.

Barb Griffith, president and CEO of CLI, promised to spend the night in a tent outside the CLI offices in St. Peters with other staff members if the organization makes third place.

"Anyone who wants to see me camped out in our parking lot is encouraged to cast their votes now and help push the Walk, Run 'n' Roll into the top three," she said in a press release.

Organizations Benefitting St. Charles County Residents Vying for Votes

Head here to vote for in the Grow St. Louis Contest

Project: We will use the funds, if awarded, to offer St. Louis the most relevant shows for each season, with these additional funds we would be able to stage through better costuming, set construction and design a professional look.

Project: VIM's major expense is the purchase of needed medicines for those who cannot afford to buy them. Additionally, VIM also distributes many free drug samples and helps people complete the often difficult paper work needed to apply to pharmaceutical company indigent programs. It is very simple: We offer free medical care delivered by conscientious and caring VOLUNTEER professionals. We make sure that no one goes without needed medicines. Monsanto’s wonderful program would assist VIM in fulfilling its mission of helping those most in need in St. Charles and Lincoln Counties.

Project: Helping youth get off the streets, find safety, heal from years of abuse and neglect, and face forward toward a positive future is a time consuming process that is critically important to each youth who is helped and to the health of the St. Louis community at large. With support from this competition, Youth In Need will be able to provide more services just as the winter season arrives.

Project: The award Emmaus receives would go towards renovations and modifications of current and future community homes. Community-based services help people across all types of disabilities maintain their independence and determine for themselves what mix of personal assistance supports and services work best for them. The goal of Emmaus Homes is to ensure our residents ability to function as independently as possible including ‘a choice’ in where they live. Currently, Emmaus operates 45 homes throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.

Project: The Crisis Nursery Center provides the children that come to their facilities with clean clothes, food and snack during the duration of their stay, as well as materials and supplies to entertain and engage the children. They provide clean bedding and a comfortable atmosphere. They have a phenomenal staff that receive on-going training to make sure they are fully educated and prepared to help the children of St. Louis "grow".

Project: The award money will go directly into producing the annual Saint Charles Shakespeare in the Park. Expenses for the performance grow every year including artistic staff positions and other necessary crew members. Riverside would also like to use the award money to create new performances, furthering their mission of providing quality theatrical performances for the public.

Parents as Teachers National Center

Project: Like many other programs, state funding for Parents as Teachers was cut last year. But in all cases, the local programs have continued to provide vital screening services. Some local programs extend screening services to families that are not enrolled in the program. The most reliable way to conduct hearing screenings with infants and toddlers is with an otoacoustic emissions instrument. Grow St. Louis award funds would allow the Parents as Teachers national office to purchase three otoacoustic emissions instruments to loan to local programs at no cost.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul of St. Louis

Project: The Society of St. Vincent de Paul will utilize the award money to support the Good Works program and the home repairs services provided. The funds will benefit homeowners in the Society of St. Vincent de Paul’s service area: St. Louis City, St. Louis County, and its surrounding eleven counties. Your support will greatly impact the Good Works Program and the clients they serve- who will be able to remain in their own home.

St. Louis Area Foodbank

Project: Award money would be used to fight hunger in the bi-state area, enabling the St. Louis Area Foodbank to continue assisting the 57,000 individuals currently served each week. With each dollar donated to the St. Louis Area Foodbank, we can provide four meals to hungry people in our community. The St. Louis Area Foodbank takes stewardship seriously, operating with one of the lowest overhead costs of any nonprofit.

Girls on the Run Scholarships

Project: Our philosophy is to never turn a girl away that wants to participate in our program and cannot afford it. We distributed $238,000 scholarships during the 2010-2011 school-year. This year we anticipate distributing over $360,000 in scholarships during the 2011-2012 school-year. We have several requests from Monsanto will allow us to offer our program to girls at these schools that otherwise would lack adequate funding to host the program.

Project: The Wentzville Special Sports Program offers students the opportunity to develop physical fitness, demonstrates courage, experience joy and participate in sharing of gifts, skills and friendship with their families, peers and community. If we win the award money, it would be used for uniforms, special equipment, and transportation for our athletes.

Wentzville Firefighters Community Reach

Project: This organization helps grow the Greater St Louis Area by donating $1000's of dollars to cancer patients who are in need of monetary funds for everything from groceries to home mortgage payments to medical bills.

Kay October 16, 2011 at 02:05 AM
If you click on my name you can see a snap shot in my photos of their Facebook page asking people to let them know if they need email addresses to vote from
ER October 16, 2011 at 02:06 AM
Act II Community Theater, do you know what an autovoter bot is? Something tells me you do. How low do you have to be to cheat in a non-profit contest? Very sad.
Alma October 16, 2011 at 02:25 AM
Kudos to Monsanto for doing this for the community. While I give credit to ActII for giving to the community in forms of entertainment, I have to say I will be going to the site to vote for an organization that helps the needy in some way, ie. homeless people, animals, children, elderly, etc....IMO, the requirements for posting your organization into the contest should have been: How does your organization help the needy or under-privileged in St. Louis? While ActII may provide entertainment for those who can not afford to pay the high $ of seeing other forms of live entertainment, I hardly consider that a form of giving to the community. What are they doing for the under-privileged? What are they doing for the animals? What are they doing for the elderly? That's what i will be looking at when I go vote.
Carl October 16, 2011 at 02:35 AM
@Alma, I am glad you feel that way. This article gives props to a "community entertainment" organization (if you can't afford to take your family out to a theater that isn't free, stay home and have game night or movie night!!!) and seems to be happy that they are beating an organization such as the one I have been voting for, where caring people are doing everything they can to help abused/neglected animals. If I may give you a suggestion, check out Stray Rescue of St. Louis. "Stray Rescue of St. Louis has been going into city neighborhoods for years and rescuing the abused, tortured and neglected dogs and cats. In a society that is often ugly, where dogs and cats are dumped, tied up and left to starve to death when the owners moved away, thrown in dumpsters, tortured for sport to force aggression and chained up outside with no shelter all year long, Randy Grim goes out everyday to rescue the forlorn often times risking his own safety not from the animals but from people. Operating solely on donations and compassion, Stray Rescue has hundreds of loyal volunteers who care for these animals, often times showing these animals their first encounter with human kindness..." You can read more by clicking on them when you visit Monsanto Grow St. Louis
Ann October 16, 2011 at 02:47 AM
Thank you Monsanto for doing this for St. Louis. But ACT 2 Community Theatre--- give me a break. Cheating and asking people to vote 2000 times per day from 20 different email addresses is NOT OK. Hopefully, Monsanto figures you out. Kids with cancer, abused animals, and helping the underprivileged all fall way ahead of your organization. You are not going to improve life in St. Louis by having more plays...
Sue Hall October 16, 2011 at 02:48 AM
I checked out the Facebook pages of several of these organizations - and it seems like Act II was the only one of the top three to encourage their people to vote more often than the rules allowed - 100 votes per person per day. I won't be voting for anyone who encourages unethical voting to win money.
Lisa October 16, 2011 at 02:59 AM
Look at their comment IN the article - 100 VOTES PER EMAIL. WRONG WRONG WRONG! The rules STATE 100 votes PER PERSON per day. ACT II POSTED on their facebook that they would SETUP new emails so that people could vote 20 times per day. How is that 100 times per day per person? THEY ASKED THEIR MEMBERS TO CHEAT. Is that worthy of the paper this article is printed on? Kalen, it makes me sad that you would even consider giving an ounce of credibility to this organization. What does that say for yours?
Ann October 16, 2011 at 03:09 AM
Yeah, the real story to report here is how ACT II stole $15,000 from Monsanto and the charities of STL.
christine October 16, 2011 at 03:47 AM
I'm sure better lighting for your plays is much more important than life-threatening diseases, homeless people, babies in crisis, helpless animals being tossed like garbage, etc, etc. I would be embarrassed to ask for money for something like that when you consider all the much more worthy charities. My daughter does community theater and we pay a fee and do fundraising for our performances. And last night I went to bed at 11pm and ACT II had 640,697. I checked first thing in the AM and they had 713,912. Hmmm...how would one little group such as this get 73,215 through the middle of the night?? I smell a big fat RAT!! Shameful!
Domenica Jansen October 16, 2011 at 04:11 AM
Any organization that blatantly cheats to win money has no integrity. ACT II has voted away their integrity and that is something $15,000 can't buy. I will never support their organization or see one of their amateur productions. I hope that when Monsanto goes through the votes and looks at the screen prints of their emails, they will be disqualified for taking the lowest road available. They are totally disgusting and despicable. I'm sure autistic kids could have used the money instead of having it go for lighting. Give me a break. Those self-proclaimed geeks will never be anything more than those kids always stuck at one lunch table in the corner getting someone's fist stuck in their food.
Domenica Jansen October 16, 2011 at 04:12 AM
Give me about 5 minutes and I can post their exact dishonesty for the world to see.
Domenica Jansen October 16, 2011 at 04:20 AM
Will the Theater geeks beat the Football team? Will you help??? Overnight efforts brought us into 2nd place only 2000 votes out of 1st. But we lose ground especially between 5 and 10pm when the football league kids are home from school and voting. Big league of kids. We need all keyboards clicking away during the day and this weekend when those kids aren't in school especially!! (voting ends THIS Sunday night at midnight) We have to have a bigger lead going into Friday night. Can You vote 2000 times today? You are allowed to use multiple email addresses. Vote 100 times a day with each. Need 10 or 20 email addresses? Just comment YES! to this post and we will send them to you!!! Like · · Share · 6 hours ago via mobile · CHEATERS!!! CHEATERS!!! CHEATERS!!!! CHEATERS!!!!!!!! CHEATERS!!!!! Straight off of Facebook ladies and gentlemen. Giving them one penny is rewarding deceit. They make me sick.
Kay October 16, 2011 at 04:54 AM
Where is the "LIKE" button when you need it? I am glad I'm not the only one that thinks "Theater Entertainment" shouldn't even be in the same category as charitable organizations that are doing and giving everything they can to help the needy. If you click on my name you will see the snapshot of ACTII's facebook page, blatently telling people to CHEAT by using email addresses that are given to them in order to vote!
BS October 16, 2011 at 05:05 AM
This is disgusting. There are real and legitimate groups that could truly use the money and some people that like to play dress up have to cheat in order to win?? Shame on you all. You just literally stole money from groups that struggle just to stay open. Shame on Monsanto for not stepping up and crying foul also!
Mary October 16, 2011 at 10:05 AM
After witnessing the conduct of stray rescue supporters during this contest I can assure you there are hundreds, if not thousands, of upset parents. Whether one group is cheating or not, it has been an unacceptable display of behavior. Enjoy your 5, 10 or 15 thousand stray rescue because you will never see another dime from us or the hundreds of others that tried to have fun with this. I hope it was worth it. In the long run I suspect not. Did you forget that we are all pet owners too? I look forward to meeting many of you at the awards ceremony.
Lori October 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM
Mary, You think it is fun to cheat? And it is unacceptable behavior to point this out to Monsanto and everyone else? I suspect you have never donated to Stray Rescue and never would have anyway. I will donate to make up for your lack of integrity. Have fun at your ceremony. I will be busy volunteering at Stray Rescue.
Mary October 16, 2011 at 12:10 PM
Actually Lori I am a mother of an autistic child. You display the typical arrogance and attitude that seems to resonate with your group. I am sorry you have so much anger. It's not OK to cheat. Problems should be solved like adults, not children.
Dan October 16, 2011 at 12:14 PM
From what I've heard and seen, I'm embarrassed to even live in St. Peters, where this Community Theater operates. Shame on you, Act II. I don't see an Act III in your future. I'll make sure everyone I know is aware that you cheated in a contest that took money away from kids, autism, people with developmental disabilities, abused animals, etc.
Lori October 16, 2011 at 12:56 PM
Mary, You are the one that said "Whether one group is cheating or not" and then went on to say you were having fun with this. Who is behaving like a child here?
Michelle October 16, 2011 at 01:10 PM
I saw Mr Grim on the news yesterday with a dog they spent $15,000 on. ONE DOG. A dog that is not even up for adoption, its his. Maybe he needs to win this contest so he can help one more dog. $15,000 on ONE DOG! These are rough times to be spending that type of money like that.
ER October 16, 2011 at 01:30 PM
Right Michelle, the 15K would be much better spent on some damn theater costumes. That will make the world a better place. I don't think it was your 15K that saved Stracks, so it really isn't up to you. If you don't like Stray Rescue,that's your choice, but until your fellow citizens clean up their act in St. Louis, Stray Rescue will continue to spend 15K (on one dog). Why? Because that's what they do. Help those who everyone else has neglected.
Sue Hall October 16, 2011 at 01:52 PM
Michelle, The adult thing to do here is not to start judging the intent of each of the organizations. Each organization feels that their need is justified. The point here is that, when people don't "play by the rules" in any game, that game begins to be less fun. The real reason I'm posting today though is this - when a society starts putting a dollar amount on the life of a soul, our society has become very sad. You've started down that slippery slope - is it worth the cost to the insurance companies to fund mammograms for women over 60? Is it worth the cost for an insurance company to install a breathing tube in the throat of a young boy so he can go home and spend his final months at home with his family? Some people see a soul - any living soul - as worthy of fighting for.
Renee October 16, 2011 at 02:27 PM
Michelle, This is not meant to be antagonistic, but are you sure you have your facts straight? I believe Mr. Grim was on the news speaking about this attempt to save a dog rescued from a dumpster: http://strayrescue.org/node/3468. The dog would have been put up for adoption if he had survived once he had healed. And he would have made a perfect pet for someone and brought years of joy to their lives. And so to everyone, I guess that's the point: a single person can change things for the better in this world, but a single person can't do all things. If one chooses to make a person's life better providing time, food, or clothing to a homeless shelter, that's great. If one chooses to make a child's life better by raising autism awareness, that's great. If one chooses to make an animal's life better, that's great, too. We shouldn't judge others by the way they choose to make the world better because everyone is playing their small part in the big picture.
Mary October 16, 2011 at 02:56 PM
Mary, I'm curious as to what you mean by the conduct of Stray Rescue. Please get your facts right before administering accusations. Stray Rescue has well over 20,000 supporters, the votes they have been receiving are legitimate. The organization itself has encouraged FAIR voting and not cheating. The only thing Stray Rescue supporters have done is bring to light the cheating done by the Act II Community Theater organization and how it was unfair to ALL of the organizations competing for this money. More than one person has also said that Monsanto should disqualify Act II and give the next place prize to the autism group, which had happened to be in spot #4 at the time. Not sure where your animosity is coming from.
Michelle October 16, 2011 at 02:58 PM
http://www.ksdk.com/news/article/281461/3/Stray-Rescue-asking-for-help-in-treating-abused-animals Here is the story Renee and thank you for your etiquette. I personally think $15,000 for one dog is an excessive use of donations. Obviously others disagree as seen by the success of the organization! It just seems like that much $ could go a lot further, but that's in the eye of the beholder I guess. Good luck!
Lori October 16, 2011 at 03:16 PM
I'm curious Michelle, Would you have all of these injured and abused animals put to sleep? What is the maximum amount of money that you think is acceptable to spend to save their lives? Just wondering.
Cassie Morr October 16, 2011 at 05:51 PM
I'm another one of Stray Rescues fans, who unfortunately doesn't have $15,000 of my own to donate, but who would. I've met many abused animals and selfless volunteers who spend countless hours, for free, trying to do all that they can to help these animals out of the dire straits we people have put them in. Stray Rescue "rescuers" and volunteers put their hearts out there everyday. Lots of times, only to be broken. Watching animals suffer and die needlessly at the hands of St. Louis residents whose priorities didn't include our canine friends. I'm not going to broach the subject of cheating, which has already been suggested, but even if the voting that's went on were honest and Act II is given the money, I'd hope instead they'd find it in their heart and conscience to give to the dogs instead. The people who've commented on here aren't commenting for their own personal gain, but on behalf of these dogs who seriously NEED this money. Most who have posted are volunteers who've taken in as many foster dogs as allowed by law or that will fit in their home. Donating what they can, when they can. They've also spent their days volunteering to do laundry, dishes, walk these dogs, clean their kennels and to bring them towels, blankets, toys, treats and cleaning supplies. The list goes on. So my hope is that the good people offering this contribution to the community, Monsanto and Act II, if they still happen to win, will make sure it goes to where it is most needed and deserved.
Cassie Morr October 16, 2011 at 06:14 PM
@ Michelle... I think the biggest thing you missed when Randy introduced Stracks, was the newly named "Stracks Fund". It was because of STRACKS, that the "Stracks Fund" was created. There were thousands of people who made individual donations toward his care, knowing it was going to just that one dog, after hearing he'd been shot, had his throat slit, was extremely malnourished and with heartworms, left for dead by a person who will probably never be caught or punished while there are still people... "it's just one dog". If it were your own dog, however, hopefully you'd be able understand how just ONE could be so significant. I certainly can!
Ann October 16, 2011 at 09:03 PM
Hi Michelle, I am a volunteer with stray rescue. At the time the $15,000 was spent on Stracks, he was a rescue, not "Randy's dog." Sometimes after these dogs get brought in at death's door, staff/volunteers do adopt them. You can go to the stray rescue website and view the video on the Stracks Rescue video-- it will give a fuller story of what happened with the dog. I saw the news clip too, and it is just a BRIEF synopsis of the story. I agree that $15,000 is alot to spend, and I wish people would stop fighting dogs, slitting their throats and overall being abusive to them. Then we would not be receiving dogs that require that much medical care. I actually hope one day that our society can be enlightened enough that dog rescue can be put out of business!!
margier October 16, 2011 at 11:37 PM
I like another person before me live in St. Peters. I have never actually heard of Act II before but now that I know what they are doing with this contest I will steer clear or them. I wouldn't go see one of their plays if they paid me and will put the word out on them.

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