State College

On Centre: Centre Region: Opportunities plentiful to give thanks, share holiday spirit

On Thanksgiving Day, we gather with family and friends around an abundant feast to remember all that we’re thankful for.

And when the turkey’s not even cold yet, many jet out to catch the best deals on Black Friday — or Thursday evening, as it were. Certainly, some of those sales can’t wait, but carve out time this week or weekend to not only give thanks for the good in our lives, but to give for the good of others.

Here in the Centre Region, one cannot go far without seeing signs for food drives, blood drives, toy drives and free holiday meals. Those organizations who host those drives and events are nonprofits, and they generally operate on a shoestring budget, the drive to fill a need and the goodness of their hearts.

Bells will be ringing

This weekend, expect to see the Salvation Army out in force, setting up camp with their bells and kettles in front of department stores and other places. The State College Corps of the Salvation Army bell ringers begin collecting today. About 90 percent of what goes into those kettles goes directly to those in Centre County who need it most — everything from rent assistance to emergency food or medical needs.

Last year, the kettle drive garnered about $80,000, and this year, there are 1,400 kettle hours scheduled. To help, check out The Salvation Army bells will be ringing through Christmas Eve.

A bit of red and green

Schedule too tight this weekend? Stop by Beaver Stadium for the American Red Cross’s blood drive Tuesday.

In partnership with Penn State Athletics and Greater Alleghenies Blood Services Region, the blood drive will be held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the Mount Nittany Club. Donors will receive a T-shirt while supplies last, and donors are entered to win a trip for two to Ireland to see Penn State play Central Florida next year in the 2014 Croke Park Classic.

Appointments are strongly encouraged by calling 800-RED CROSS or logging on to with the sponsor code PSU or ZIP code 16801.

Don’t forget the children

There may be no better feeling than including in your holiday budget a few dollars to buy gifts for needy children so that they can have a present to open on Christmas morning. Too often, we are so consumed with being consumers that we forget there are so many people right here in our communities who don’t experience the joy of Christmas.

Certainly, Christmas isn’t about getting; it’s about giving. Being able to light up the face of a child on Christmas morning and help his or her parents witness true Christmas spirit is priceless.

That’s why the Nittany Leathernecks Detachment of the Marine Corps here in Centre County is again collecting toys for its annual Toys for Tots campaign.

For the 67th year, the Leathernecks have set up toy collection boxes at retailers and other organizations in the area and will distribute the toys, after a community-wrapping campaign, to underprivileged children in the Centre Region as well as Bellefonte, Howard, Millheim, Philipsburg, Potter and Snow Shoe townships.

The Marines hope to garner 40,000 toys by Dec. 16, which will give about 10,000 children a present under the tree on Christmas morning. For more info, check out

Donate food for free fare

There are so many food drives throughout the Centre Region, and with good reason: Annual food contributions have been down this year, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons are the busiest times for those in need.

On Wednesday and Thursday this coming week, you can catch a free ride on a CATA bus if you bring a canned or nonperishable food item to donate. The “Food for Fare” canned food drive benefits area food banks.

Last year, the food drive netted 803 pounds of food.

For more information, call 814-238-CATA.

Your turn

With so much to be thankful for this season, wouldn’t it be great to have someone less fortunate be thankful for you? Think about giving your donations to one of these amazing organizations. More so than the glitzy Christmas lights or canned holiday music blaring at the department stores, giving to others in need is the best way to catch the holiday spirit.