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Tim Martin from PPL Corporation works the controls as members of the Parks and Recreation for the City of Lancaster and volunteers from PPL work to place the Christmas tree in Penn Square on Monday, Nov., 22, 2021.

THE ISSUE: It’s Monday, the day we take a few moments to highlight the good news in Lancaster County and the surrounding region. Some of these items are welcome developments on the economic front or for area neighborhoods. Others are local stories of achievement, perseverance, compassion and creativity that represent welcome points of light in a still-difficult time of the long pandemic. All of this news deserves a brighter spotlight.

The generosity of Lancaster County residents never ceases to impress us.

For the ninth consecutive year, the Extraordinary Give broke its own fundraising record. The Nov. 19 event raised $15,873,921 for 516 organizations, from a total of 30,803 donors. That easily surpassed last year’s total of $13.4 million.

It boggles the mind to think that residents have been able to reach deeper into their pockets each year and continue to surpass such high fundraising totals.

“It’s just an overwhelming sense of generosity,” said Tracy Cutler, executive vice president of the Lancaster County Community Foundation, which organizes the event. “(ExtraGive) continues to be a reflection of things our community cares about and the commitment that people across the region have to supporting causes that are important to them."

LNP | LancasterOnline’s Erik Yabor noted in his coverage that typical giving days across the United States generate about $2 per capita, but Lancaster County, with about 553,000 residents according to the 2020 Census figures, far surpasses that average.

After last year’s ExtraGive was held entirely online, members of the community were able to gather at more than two dozen special events this year to help promote the importance of this big fundraiser.

“This year’s ExtraGive Fest returned to a live, in-person format that included live music, a beer garden hosted by Spring House Brewing Co. and other activities,” Yabor reported.

There was a campout at Clipper Magazine Stadium to raise awareness of homelessness in Lancaster County. Sponsored by Tenfold — which provides temporary housing and support services for individuals experiencing homelessness, as well as aid and educational services to low-income residents facing housing issues and first-time homeowners — the campout on the baseball diamond served as both an educational tool and a way to solicit ExtraGive donations.

Food insecurity is another crucial issue for some county residents, and ExtraGive donors also delivered for the nonprofits that work year-round to fight hunger.

The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, Blessings of Hope and Meals on Wheels of Lancaster were all among the top 25 organizations receiving the most ExtraGive funds this year.

And, in a Nov. 25 letter to the editor, Danielle J. Peters, director of the Columbia Food Bank, praised the 136 donors who gave $20,130 to that nonprofit.

“The virtues of kindness and generosity are alive and well,” Peters wrote.

ExtraGive has now raised more than $81 million to support local organizations since its inaugural event in 2012, Yabor reported.

“It’s the people in Lancaster County that deserve all the credit,” Cutler told LNP | LancasterOnline. “People all across the community ... make the day possible, and that’s the piece that’s really magic.”

We agree.

Much gratitude is due to the tens of thousands of people and businesses that donated this year. This week, you are all the good things that make this county the special place it is.

A very special tree

This week’s other good thing is a poignant gesture by Kelly Rhineer of Quarryville.

She donated the 25-foot fir tree that now stands at Penn Square in Lancaster city and will be first lit during a ceremony starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

Rhineer’s husband, William, “brought the tree home 15 years ago and grew it in their front yard, lovingly pruning it and taking care of it,” LNP | LancasterOnline’s Mickayla Miller reported last week.

But after William died in the summer of 2020, Kelly wasn’t able to tend to the tree in the same way her husband had. So she asked if the city wanted it as its Christmas tree for the square.

And thus William Rhineer’s memory will live on throughout this holiday season, as people travel through Penn Square each day and admire the merrily decorated tree that he put so much love and care into. 

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