Extra Give 2017

Signage for the Extraordinary Give lights up downtown Lancaster in this file photo from 2017.

THE ISSUE

The ninth annual Extraordinary Give, a marathon of online giving, will be held Friday. Since 2012, when the event was launched by the Lancaster County Community Foundation, county residents have given more than $53 million to more than 500 community benefit organizations through ExtraGive.org. The online giving will commence at 12:01 a.m. Friday and continue through 11:59 p.m. As Sam Bressi, president and CEO of the Lancaster County Community Foundation, wrote in a recent op-ed, “the Extraordinary Give ranks as the highest per capita giving day in the nation. Every year inspires more individuals to get involved and, thanks to Rodgers & Associates, High Foundation, LNP Media Group and The Steinman Foundation and our other corporate sponsors, every dollar donated on Nov. 20 will be stretched to go the extra mile for causes you care about.”

In most years, the Extraordinary Give feels like the festive start of the holiday season, a chance to give to others before giving thanks for the bounty we’ve been granted.

This year, it seems to us to be akin to a lighthouse — a beacon of hope, offering light in a dark time.

COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations are rising. Some schools are returning to virtual instruction because of substantial community spread of the novel coronavirus. Exhausted health care workers are risking their lives to take care of their patients. Business owners and employees are worried about the economic implications of the current pandemic surge. And the demands being placed on nonprofit organizations are great.

This is a chance to help the helpers. A chance to give in a year that seems to keep on taking.

And this year’s ExtraGive may be more necessary than ever before.

As Bressi noted in his op-ed, “The pandemic has forced our community benefit sector to forgo many important in-person fundraisers and cancel activities that typically provide essential financial support. So, Lancaster County, we need you to be all in.”

As we noted in an editorial earlier this month, “Nonprofits here help residents deal with developmental disabilities, poverty, loneliness, mental health problems and educational deficits. They assist the jobless, the homeless, the hungry and those struggling with addiction.”

And nonprofits “based around the arts, culture and history enrich our lives.”

So whether you want to give to an organization that offers shelter to people or animals, or a public library, or an arts or environmental or educational nonprofit, or a faith-based organization, or a local journalism fund — or any cause close to your heart — you will have plenty of options among those participating in the Extraordinary Give.

And your donation will be gratefully received in this difficult year.

Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, said its network of partner organizations experienced a 50% increase in demand for food from mid-March through July.

Demand from August through October “settled back to generally 30 to 40% above last year,” he said. This was likely because federal coronavirus relief programs offered cash payments to households, enhanced unemployment benefits and increased food assistance benefits.

But this month, Arthur said, “we are seeing an increasing trend as we approach Thanksgiving, and we expect that trend of higher demand to continue due to the lack of agreement in Washington regarding more pandemic relief.”

And there’s the added concern that the fledgling economic recovery may be impeded by the latest COVID-19 surge.

Arthur said the food bank now is back to serving about 200,000 individuals per month — compared to 135,000 individuals per month in 2019. These include families, children, seniors and veterans. One in 10 people in central Pennsylvania face food insecurity, including 1 in 7 children.

Every dollar donated to the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank can be turned into six meals for people in need.

Not only the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, but some of its partner organizations — including the Columbia Food Bank, Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County, Water Street Mission, Lancaster County Food Hub, Power Packs Project and Ephrata Area Social Services — will be seeking donations through ExtraGive.

As Bressi wrote, you’re encouraged to share “the fact that you are giving and why with your family, friends, co-workers, and social networks.”

Some of us may be reluctant to publicly announce that we’re giving, but sharing this information will help to amplify the Extraordinary Give’s message.

It’s not self-aggrandizing; it’s an act of generosity. Please consider taking part if you can.

Last year, the minimum donation was reduced to $10 — an excellent decision that enabled people with fewer resources to contribute. We’re glad to see that the $10 minimum has returned and will stay for good.

Please note: While in other years, the 24 hours of ExtraGive were filled with a packed schedule of events, some of those events have necessarily had to be modified because of the pandemic. And some will be held virtually this year.

Nevertheless, as LNP | LancasterOnline’s Pat Bywater reported, ExtraGive organizers have “developed a robust virtual programming schedule from 5 p.m. to midnight” Friday. Among the highlights: Art and Music Family Fun at 6 p.m. with artist Keisha Finnie and performer Steven Courtney; and the Extraordinary Finale, from 11:45 p.m. to midnight with featured band Mama Tried and the countdown to the 2020 ExtraGive total.

Despite the pandemic, it promises to be a great 24 hours — a much-needed bright spot in a bleak year.