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Centre County charities have wish lists for local needs

Centre Volunteers in Medicine holds an annual Give Kids a Smile and Vision for the Future event. “As a medical/dental clinic, it’s hard for us to come up with things we need that work well on wish lists. So besides, money (which we always need and which can always be given in honor of), we often ask for gift cards to Staples, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot that we can use for building supplies as we need them,” said Cheryl White, executive director of CVIM.
Centre Volunteers in Medicine holds an annual Give Kids a Smile and Vision for the Future event. “As a medical/dental clinic, it’s hard for us to come up with things we need that work well on wish lists. So besides, money (which we always need and which can always be given in honor of), we often ask for gift cards to Staples, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot that we can use for building supplies as we need them,” said Cheryl White, executive director of CVIM. Centre Daily Times, file

OK, you got something for the kids. Mom and Dad are done. Grandma, your sister, teachers, the paperboy, every box checked off — or planned to be checked off by Saturday as the march toward Christmas and Hanukkah keeps going.

But are they the only ones who might want something for the holidays?

Nope. Organizations that help others all over Centre County also have lists of things that would make their work so much easier next year.

Some of them are up-close and personal.

Cathy McFee, regional vice president of Skills of Central Pennsylvania, is looking for things for specific clients. Her organization helps people with disabilities, and her wish list includes things that would help them, like a flannel jacket for one man and a warm comforter for another, and things that would brighten their lives, like something for a woman who loves NASCAR and Keith Urban or DVDs for a man obsessed with movies.

Andrea Fisher, CEO of the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, is looking to warm hands as well as hearts.

“For us, just like all families with kids, we are always in need of the things they lose. Hats, gloves, mittens, socks, ChapStick, things like that. We can also always use bottled water and snack foods,” she said.

But for most, the best gift is a little more one size fits all: money.

“We always accept donations in memory or in honor of someone,” said Lisa Erickson, executive director of the Centre County Library. “With every $25 donation, we place a bookplate in the front of the book stating who the donation is in memory or honor of. This is a great gift idea.”

The library also needs $2,500 for a commercial dehumidifier for preserving historical records, and other funds to support technology and computer stations at its branches in Bellefonte, Philipsburg and Centre Hall. Children’s tech at each location costs about $500. One computer station runs $750.

Cheryl White, executive director of Centre Volunteers in Medicine, needs money to continue to provide medical services to area residents who don’t have anywhere else to turn.

“We are in the middle of our Friends and Family campaign this month. For the 14th year in a row, Lance and Ellen Shaner will match, dollar for dollar up to the first $50,000,” she said. “As a medical/dental clinic, it’s hard for us to come up with things we need that work well on wish lists. So besides, money (which we always need, and which can always be given in honor of) we often ask for gift cards to Staples, Wal-Mart, Lowe’s, Home Depot that we can use for building supplies as we need them.”

For Ann Walker, executive administrator of the Child Development and Family Council of Centre County, money lets her organization keep helping families take care of their kids while parents work to keep food on the table and roofs over their heads.

“Our ‘Safety Net for Kids’ fund helps families afford the cost of high quality early care and education programs for children from 6 weeks through sixth grade,” she said.

Wendy Vinhage, director of Interfaith Human Services, has homes to heat.

“People can support low-income families with home heating emergencies. The Centre County Fuel Bank provides free heating assistance to low-income families to keep them safe and warm in their homes. To support these families, donations can be made out to Interfaith Human Services with the memo, Centre County Fuel Bank,” she said. “People can always choose to donate in honor of someone, and we will write a gift acknowledgment to that person.”

The Arc of Centre County helps residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities. CEO Rebecca Cunningham isn’t picky about the support she gets.

“I would say that donations can always be used and applied to any of our programs,” she said.

She does have ideas, though.

“Our Home and Community Habilitation services could certainly use extra support this year; the funding for this service has been stagnant for years although the expenses associated with the service have continued to rise,” she said. “These services assist those we serve in acquiring, retaining and improving the self-help, socialization and adaptive skills necessary to reside successfully in home and community-based settings. HCH is an absolutely essential service and a vital link for persons with an intellectual or development disability and their families to ensure that their needs are met as they remain actively engaged as members of our community.”

Bridge of Hope of Centre County Executive Director Sue Patterson could use money to support families facing or at risk of homelessness.

“There are always things we are looking for in various amounts,” she said. “Our services include case management, rental assistance on a decreasing scale, budgeting, education, etc. Our unique feature is we match each family with a group of trained folks from the community in various local congregations to serve as a resource. This group becomes the ultimate ‘neighbor’ for the family helping in so many ways. Ultimately helping a family who is facing challenges not feel alone during this time. Our program is focused on bring(ing) a hand up, not a hand out.”

All of the money stays in Centre County, where she said it takes about $25 per day to house a family. Gift cards for groceries or other stores that could help families are also welcome, but Patterson detailed one more wish that many charities would like to see fulfilled.

“The gift of time ... serving on our board or helping with a special project, hosting a fundraiser, inviting us to share about Bridge of Hope at your agency or church. These are just some of the ways to be involved,” she said.

Centre County is filled with charities, service organizations and groups that support communities and individuals from Philipsburg to Millheim, Snow Shoe to State College, everything from volunteer fire companies to school bands to food banks and museums. Gifts to charities are great ways to show appreciation and support.

And don’t forget, most Christmas presents aren’t tax deductible, but remembering one of those groups (especially before the end of the year) is.

Lori Falce: 814-235-3910, @LoriFalce

Want to give?

Arc of Centre County, 1840 N. Atherton St., State College, PA 16803

Bridge of Hope of Centre County, P.O. Box 433, State College, PA 16804

Centre County Library, 200 N. Allegheny St., Bellefonte, PA 16823

Centre County Youth Service Bureau, 325 W. Aaron Drive, State College, PA 16803

Centre Volunteers in Medicine, 2520 Green Tech Drive, State College, PA 16803

Child Development and Family Council, 2565 Park Centre Blvd., No. 100, State College, PA 16801

Interfaith Human Services, 251 Easterly Parkway, Suite 200, State College, PA 16801

Skills of Central PA, 341 Science Park Road, State College, PA 16803

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