Charities & Nonprofits Leading the Way in Central PA

When Pennsylvania Business Central de­cided to publish the Top 20 Charities and Nonprofits list, we knew we had a chal­lenge on our hands. If there’s one thing that can be said about central Pennsylvania and its people, it’s that they are generous and committed to their communities. It only makes sense that nonprofits and charities abound and just about everyone has a say as to which are the best or most helpful.

Our inaugural Top 20 Charities and Nonprofits list recognizes a wide range of organizations, from those that were founded right here in the region to those that are national or even international in scope but still have a huge impact on our residents through local work and contri­butions.

It’s the latter of these that are some­times easy to overlook, not due to lack of respect, but because of lack of awareness if we’ve not been personally touched by their outreach. Take the Red Cross as an example. We all know the Red Cross vis­its our office parks and local businesses to host blood drives on occasion, but, beyond that, what does the Red Cross ac­tually do?

It just so happens, quite a lot. The Red Cross responds to an average of more than 62,000 disasters every year, with a team made up of 95% volunteers. Ninety percent of those disasters are home fires, even though a recent Red Cross survey showed that 40% of respondents think they’re more likely to win the lottery than lose their home in a fire — meanwhile, more than 70% of people say they’ve left a stove on, nearly 60% leave a fired grill and 10% don’t buy smoke alarms.

That blood you donate can save up to three lives and, while you’re munching on your cookie and sipping your juice, mil­lions of cancer patients will need blood during chemotherapy and a lone car ac­cident victim could need up to 100 pints of the stuff.

Beyond serving our communities in dire circumstances, the Red Cross also offers resources to keep our neighbors safe by providing all kinds of training, from baby- sitting certifications to CPR. This year, the Red Cross rolled out a new resuscitation education program and, by year’s end, the organization expects more than 250,000 people will become certified.

The Red Cross isn’t the only big-name nonprofit that doesn’t always receive the visibility it should in our region. While we might not all need Red Cross services, there is one cause that we can all relate to — aging. In fact, the senior population is set to double by 2060. Hunger threatens nine million of today’s seniors. We’re get­ting older as a population, but we’re not necessarily staying physically or financially fit longer; those without family living near­by to help care for them are often forced to either figure it out or go without.

Meals on Wheels serves nearly 2.4 mil­lion seniors, many of whom live alone and have not only nutritional needs, but social needs, as well; the effects of loneliness in seniors have been compared to those of a cardiovascular condition. Meals on Wheels recipients feel more secure, better main­tain their independence and are less likely to have repeat falls.

While the elderly and alone often exist on the fringes of day-to-day society, they face challenges that we will all face one day.

It’s worthy organizations like the Red Cross and Meals on Wheels that Pennsylva­nia Business Central hopes to bring back to the forefront of your mind.

Of course, we could only include a por­tion of the amazing regional nonprofits and charities on our inaugural Top 20 list. We hope we’ll have your input for our 2020 list. For now, though, peruse these 20 fantastic examples of generosity and magnanimity that our communities are so good at supporting. We tip our hats to the honorees.

* = Description written by Pennsylvania Business Central editorial staff