In the course of a little more than a year, guests at Gila River Hotels & Casinos—including Wild Horse Pass in Chandler—had the opportunity to make a difference to four Valley nonprofits.

Through the Everi Cares Kiosk, guests donated a total of $125,511.93 in late January to Beyond Autism, Foundation for Blind Children, Hope Community Services and UMOM Day Centers. Everi Cares is a charitable giving application programmed into the kiosks on the casino floors that provide guests the opportunity to donate their change to nonprofits from their winning ticket vouchers, according to a news release from Gila River.

Foundation for Blind Children—with an office in Chandler—used the funds to support their animal-assisted therapy program in a virtual format. In addition to animal-assisted therapy for their students, the Foundation for Blind Children was also able to implement music therapy in the virtual setting.

Jared Kittelson, chief operating officer of Foundation for Blind Children, said any additional funding the nonprofit can get makes a "huge difference."

"The timing of it was impeccable," Kittelson said. "It allowed us to supplement our shortfalls; we didn't stop providing any service during the pandemic. It affected some levels of enrollment—which is how we get revenue. But not a single program shut down. We remained in person where we could and went virtual where we could."

The Foundation for Blind Children serves the blind and visually impaired of all ages, from birth to more than 100 years old.

"That support allowed us to maintain services—we didn't furlough staff; we had no layoffs; and we were able to hold true to the mission and not have interruption in services," Kittelson said. "We were able to retain our staff and be flexible and figure out ways to serve students."