Opinion

Centre County not lacking in options for charitable giving

Sharlat Glenn, left, and Leslie Wilson dance during last year’s Play4Kay Game Benefiting Pink Zone at the Bryce Jordan Center. Pink Zone is one of many local options for people looking to make a tax-deductible donation this holiday season.
Sharlat Glenn, left, and Leslie Wilson dance during last year’s Play4Kay Game Benefiting Pink Zone at the Bryce Jordan Center. Pink Zone is one of many local options for people looking to make a tax-deductible donation this holiday season. Centre Daily Times, file

If you’re looking to give back to the community by donating to a Centre County nonprofit this holiday season, a lack of options should not be a problem.

The area is full of organizations that work diligently every day to provide the best quality of life possible for residents of Centre County and beyond.

If you’re unable to give financially this holiday season, consider giving your time.

Here are some ideas from the Centre Daily Times editorial board:

Bridge of Hope

The homeless of the Centre Region are not immediately visible on the streets of our communities. Nonetheless they are here, in many cases, noticed only by the social service organizations that serve them.

According to the state department, Pennsylvania has about 15,000 homeless residents. In February, the CDT reported 49 people in area transitional housing, with another 24 in emergency housing situations. These invisible homeless or near-homeless residents find refuge on their friends’ couches, in relatives’ basements, in a car, or in local housing centers, provided space is available.

Bridge of Hope Centre County is a United Way organization dedicated to ending homelessness among mothers with children. BOHCC and its national affiliates partner with local churches to eliminate homelessness one family at a time. Christian churches that wish to join the fight against homeless among single women and children are invited to develop small mentoring groups to serve as family friends and supporters.

BOHCC is not a handout, nor is it a replacement for long-established community social services, such as Housing Transitions. Instead, BOHCC fills a specific niche by assisting single mothers in their search for permanent housing, financial stability through employment, and personal growth. However, BOHCC cannot assist families without community support. Please consider making a contribution to Bridge of Hope Centre County or to one of the other organizations that serve the homeless, such as Housing Transitions or Hearts for Homeless.

To make your tax-exempt donation to Bridge of Hope Centre County, go to bohcc.org.

Centre Foundation

Centre Foundation imagines a community where there are no hungry children, homeless families or abandoned pets. A community where open space is preserved, history and heritage is sustained and public art is plentiful. A community where every charity has regular funding they can count on year after year, so they can spend more time working in the community and less time fundraising.

Every day, Centre Foundation works to bring that vision closer to reality by inspiring donors and supporting organizations. The organization inspires donors to support their passions by creating endowment funds to create long-term giving, and also offer easy and innovative ways to help now, like Centre Gives and the Giving Circle. Centre Foundation supports organizations with stable endowment funding, and also provides training and fundraising opportunities to promote sustainability.

Because Centre Foundation gets to know every perspective donor and organization, it develops a deep understanding of the region’s needs, and works to meet the changing needs of our community.

For more than 35 years, Centre Foundation has been a leader in philanthropy in Centre County, providing more than $18 million dollars in grants to hundreds of local charities. The organization oversees more than $37 million in endowments, and is growing both its annual grants and endowment funds every year.

We all share a vision of a vibrant community. By giving to Centre Foundation this holiday season, we will be helping to make this vision becomes a reality.

Giving to our local churches

During this busy holiday season our minds are full of all the tasks we have to accomplish in a very short period of time. What is more important is reflecting upon what we can do to help others.

Congregations and religious organizations during this time and throughout the year provide a multitude of opportunities to give and care. The following are just a few. During this season, Grace Lutheran Church held a Mitten, Scarf and Hat Tree, with donations going to local children in the area distributed through the Centre County Youth Service Bureau. There were collection boxes for Toys for Tots for needy children in our area. Holiday collection continues for Centre County Women’s Resource Center and for purchases using AmazonSmile, which will contribute 0.5 percent of the purchase to CCWRC. Finals Week “care packages” are prepared for Penn State Students to help give them some encouragement and Christmas greetings.

Volunteering time is another opportunity to care. The annual Interfaith Human Services Wishing Well Campaign is a wonderful way during the holidays for families to share the experience with their children and help collect for low-income families needing emergency financial assistance and toward the Centre County Fuel Bank for the cold months ahead.

In terms of caring and being involved, consider volunteering to support the Out of the Cold: Centre County program at local churches. This program provides warm and safe accommodations and meals for members of our homeless community at churches that share in the responsibility from October through May 6.

There are so many ways to give. These are just a few. Please consider giving of your valuable time and resources utilizing the many opportunities your local congregation might have to offer during times that not everyone is able to celebrate or have the means to have a merry Christmas.

Pink Zone

As the 2017 holiday season approaches, we are thankful that our community is blessed by a strong commitment to caring for others evidenced by the many nonprofit organizations that work diligently to make a positive difference in the lives of friends and neighbors.

Among those, we would like to offer an expression of gratitude for Pink Zone, a unified force between Lady Lion Basketball and Pink Zone in the fight against breast cancer — on the court, across the country, and within communities where we live and work

More than 10 years strong, this standout organization has raised over $1.8 million for the cause. Larger than a fundraising engine, Pink Zone, under the leadership of Penn State women’s basketball head coach Coquese Washington, teaches student athletes about the importance of giving back to their communities. Pink Zone, as the Lady Lions themselves, works all year to elevate, support, and celebrate the women (and men) attacked by breast cancer. The program has been notably beneficial to the region’s four area hospitals: Mount Nittany Medical Center; J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital; Geisinger Lewistown Hospital; and Penn State Health Milton s. Hershey Medical Center.

Pink Zone is making a difference in the welcome progress in breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. As Coach Washington recently noted, keeping families together in times of extreme stress is at the core of Pink Zone’s work. But the fight for a full cure continues. Community members may experience for themselves an amazing assembly of women’s basketball student-athletes, coaches, fans, survivors and supporters when the Lady Lions play their Play4Kay game benefiting Pink Zone against Ohio State at noon Feb. 25 at the Bryce Jordan Center. Hundreds of breast cancer survivors are welcomed to and celebrated at that energetic and inspiring game, the largest and most successful in the United States. All those who have not experienced the sense of victory and gratitude that fills the BJC during that always remarkable game owes it to themselves to mark their calendars today so they can see in person how collegiate women’s athletics, giving back, and community come together in a meaningful and beautiful way.

Rowland Theatre & The State Theatre

Two Centre County nonprofit theaters have kept audiences laughing, singing, crying and dreaming for decades. At this time of year, you can help make sure these dreams continue and, at the same time, give a unique Christmas gift that will carry over into the New Year.

In Philipsburg, the historic Rowland Theatre is finishing a yearlong celebration of its 100th anniversary in 2017 and making plans for its 2018 concert series.

Tickets are on sale for Paragon Ragtime Orchestra for 7 p.m. April 14. PRO performs from the orchestra pit and plays original scores to silent films, including the sound effects. Under the direction of Rick Benjamin, PRO takes audiences back to an evening at the theater 100 years ago. Tickets are $25.

On June 2, at 7 p.m., Four by Four, a four-piece singing group from Las Vegas, will perform hits of the Bee Gees, Beach Boys, Beatles and Motown. Tickets are $30. To purchase tickets, people may visit the Rowland Theatre box office or call 342-0477.

The 2018 calendar for The State Theatre in State College is also filling fast.

The community-owned theatre will turn 80 in October and also relies on the support of people who attend its varied programming. Tickets for events are available online at thestatetheatre.org or by visiting its box office.

Your purchase of tickets at these venues is a great way to keep history and the arts alive in central Pennsylvania.

Centre County United Way

The Centre County United Way is a great option when it comes to charitable giving this season. Donations help support more than 34 local partner agencies that provide health, education and financial stability for every person in Centre County. By fostering communication and synergy within the various partner agencies, the Centre County United Way creates a strong community safety net. Organizations work together to help an individual or family through not just one part but all aspects of a challenging situation.

The impact of Centre County United Way and its partner agencies reaches countywide. Their programs provide basic needs security to residents, help children and youth develop strong communication and life skills and prepare them for school, provide access to job transition training and support for adults, and responds to families and entire communities in times of disaster and need. According to community impact statistics, just last year alone, 35,534 residents participated in preschool readiness, after-school tutoring and learning, or job transition training and support. Your financial contribution is spread to the agencies that need it most, ensuring the safety-net of aid stays strong and supportive. Beyond financial support, the Centre County United way is always looking for volunteers and advocates. For more information visit http://www.ccunitedway .org/volunteer -opportunties.

Programs that fight hunger

According to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, 1 in 8 central Pennsylvanians struggle with hunger, including 1 in 5 children.

For children, the effects of food insecurity can be particularly devastating. Hunger in children has shown to lead to troubles focusing in school, delayed development and increased chance of chronic illness.

Luckily for children living in Centre County, there are programs that can help.

The Backpack Program, run through the YMCA of Centre County, works with local school districts to identify qualifying children and provide them with a backpack containing snacks and meals to ensure they have food over the weekends.

According to the YMCA’s website, more than 1,000 children were served by the program in seven area school districts last school year.

But it’s not just children who suffer from hunger.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank distributes more than 48 million pounds of food each year to area food banks, shelters, soup kitchens, according to its website. The Food Bank of the State College Area, according to its website, delivered the equivalent of 338,339 meals to residents in State College and surrounding townships last year.

There are many reasons why some one might find him or herself without without a regular meal, but programs like the food bank, Backpack Program and Penn State’s Lion’s Pantry are working to make sure food is one less thing people have to worry about when trying to get back on their feet.

This holiday season, consider supporting those organizations with a donation of food or money, or by volunteering to help stock shelves or by helping to pack backpacks.

A comprehensive list of needs, as well as information about how to get involved, can be found on each organization’s website.

Help make sure no Centre County resident goes hungry this winter.

Helping Other People Excel

You are suddenly faced with the reality of having to drive two-hours several times a week for medical appointments. Your home insurance or disability payments are not arriving for several days or months; however, you still need to pay your rent, purchase gas for your vehicle and take loved ones to medical appointments. These types of situations are faced daily in the Bald Eagle Valley and surrounding areas. Fortunately, Helping Other People Excel Inc. of Bald Eagle has continuously provided assistance to these families since 2012. Started by Steve and Lisa Stem in 2012 as an organization to assist people dealing with tragedies, it is continuing to extend its reach daily to residents who are facing difficult situations.

Since 2012, their organization has provided more than 225 families with support. One of the their core values is to provide quick responses when a need becomes evident. Over the years, they have held multiple fundraising events such as Bingo Nights, BBQ raffles and their annual “Fun Night.” The response and support at these events has allowed their continued assistance to the multiple families. As you evaluate during this holiday season, supporting local organizations, we strongly encourage you to support Helping Other People Excel Inc. to ensure their continued support of families when situations arise where support is warranted to assist with a life tragedy. These “stop-gap” measures provide necessary temporary assistance for families in our region.

To make your tax-exempt donation and to obtain more information on Helping Other People Excel Inc. go to: http://www. helpingotherpeopleexcel. info/.

The Daily Collegian

The Daily Collegian begins a new chapter in January 2018 and faces a huge challenge. Due to financial concerns and changing habits in media consumption, the print newspaper will only publish Mondays and Thursdays. The Daily Collegian will still remain, but as an online publication, updated throughout each day. As media habits change, The Collegian is changing, too. Students will learn how to navigate the constantly changing business and media arena that awaits them after graduation. In its 130-year history, The Collegian has trained and nurtured thousands of Penn State students for careers in media and business. The organization tries to give the students every advantage by providing the most up-to-date equipment and programs.

Your donation to this much-loved and consistently awarded Penn State tradition will help the Collegian continue to produce ethical, highly trained and experienced professionals. Any tax-deductable donation will help the organization achieve new goals and prepare one of the oldest Penn State traditions for the new era ahead. Collegian Inc. is independent from Penn State and is a registered nonprofit. The fundraising website is http ://wearethecollegian.com/. For more information, please contact Collegian general manager Wayne Lowman at gmpsudc@ gmail.com.

This is not a comprehensive list, as we know there are many additional hardworking organizations in our area. Please tell us about your favorites, in 250 words or less, by emailing editorialboard@centredaily .com or cdtletters@centre daily.com.

  Comments