This Holiday Season, Give a Gift that Could Change a Life

As the old saying goes, “one person can’t change the whole world, but you can change the world for one person.” With hundreds of non-profit organizations in Centre County, there is great need for support to help the less fortunate in our community.

Consider changing the world for someone this year by giving back to the community. Whether you help feed the hungry, shelter an animal, preserve a local landmark, or invest in a child’s future, your gift makes a big impact for someone who needs it in Happy Valley.

Here are a few ideas to give back locally this holiday season.


Help a Neighbor Who is Struggling

One in six people in America go hungry, including right here in Centre County. The State College Food Bank exists to help families overcome food insecurity through regular distributions of nutritious food. Last year, thanks to volunteer support and financial contributions from the community, the Food Bank helped to feed nearly 2,000 local individuals.

"You can play a life-changing role in helping a local household put food on the table," said Carol Pioli, Executive Director of the State College Food Bank. "Every gift, no matter the size, helps us combat hunger in Centre County."

Another local charity that changes lives is the Bellefonte office of Catholic Charities. While their name may imply that there are faith-based requirements to receive assistance, the charity provides help and hope to people in need regardless of their religious background. They offer emergency financial assistance to individuals and families who don’t qualify for government assistance programs, but need help to avoid eviction, keep their lights on, or purchase lifesaving medication due to unexpected financial crises.


Protect and Serve Our Communities

The protection that volunteer firefighters provide can be compared to those of insurance: you hope you never have to use it, but you’ll be glad you have it if you need it. Community fire departments like Logan Fire Company No. 1 and Howard Fire Company operate solely on volunteer manpower—meaning your neighbors put their lives on the line to keep you and your family safe. And, as volunteers, they are never paid a dime. These local volunteer fire departments are often the first line of defense in an emergency situation, enabling highly-trained emergency rescue personnel to reach you quickly when seconds count. They rely heavily on financial support from the community to maintain equipment and apparatus, and to ensure each volunteer has necessary training. An added bonus of volunteer fire departments is that they help keep taxes lower for area residents, by reducing the need for more paid staff fire departments which are funded by tax dollars.

"While there are many great and deserving organizations out there looking for donations, none of them impact you, your family, and your community as much as having a fully trained and equipped emergency service provider close to home," said Mark Ott, volunteer for Howard Fire Company.


Invest in Our Future Generations

By making a donation to a local school, you invest in the future of our community and our world. Gifts to public schools—like through the State College Area School District Education Foundation or Bald Eagle Area School District Eagle Ambassadors—help to ensure all students can reach their maximum potential by helping to fund critical activities, resources, and opportunities that fall outside the districts’ annual operating budgets.


“The Foundation exists to raise money to support students within SCASD,” said Paul Olivett, Executive Director of the State College Area School District Education Foundation. “Our goal is to enhance the programs and experiences that make our district great for the students and the community.”

Donations to local private schools help to make tuition affordable for more students. Many families choose private schools for their small class sizes, college-preparatory curriculum, college acceptance rates, and, in some cases, faith-centered environment. Saint Joseph’s Catholic Academy in Boalsburg offers high school students an educational experience centered on the pillars of faith, scholarship, leadership, and service—positioning them for success in college and in their careers. Since the school opened in 2011, they’ve yielded a 100% college acceptance rate among graduates.

“We empower young men and women, both Catholic and non-Catholic, to pursue rigorous academic studies within a faith-based environment,” said Chris Chirieleison, principal at Saint Joe’s. “Small class sizes and exceptional teachers facilitate meaningful enrichment, while the Gospel values of integrity, respect, service, and justice inform our academic endeavors and social interactions.”


No matter where your heart lies, there are numerous organizations worthy of your support this holiday season. Thank you for making perhaps the most important gift of all—a gift that could change the course of someone’s life!

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