Lebanon Gives hopes to find a generous spirit among Lebanon County residents this year.

The sixth annual fundraising campaign has set a goal of $50,000 this year, to split among 20 participating nonprofit organizations.

“There are no big changes this year, other than we’re hoping to raise more money,” Amy Pennycoff, director of community engagement at Lebanon Valley Family YMCA, told LebTown. “At the end of the day, it’s about a group of nonprofits coming together and encouraging folks to give back to organizations that they feel are important in Lebanon County.”

The yearly fundraiser kicked off informally in mid-October and ends Nov. 29, Pennycoff said.

Donations can be made online or by texting “Lebanon” followed by the donation amount and the donor’s name to 91999. Checks can also be sent to Lebanon Gives care of Amy Pennycoff, Lebanon Valley Family YMCA, 201 N. 7th St., Lebanon PA 17046. Donations are tax-deductible.

“People can donate now. They can make a donation any time,” Pennycoff said. “It’s active and live … so use your smartphones, use your computer, get online and make a donation.”

According to Pennycoff, donors can give to Lebanon Gives as a whole, which will split all proceeds among the 20 participating nonprofits, or they can specify one or more recipients of their gift.

“The funds we raise, first we pay our expenses, including marketing. Then the leftover money is divided evenly between all of the organizations,” she explained. “The $50,000 we hope to raise also includes money each organization raises on their own while promoting Giving Tuesday and Lebanon Gives.”

Lebanon Gives last year fell short of its $40,000 target amount. Pennycoff said donations have been lagging since the advent of COVID-19.

Any nonprofit group can join

Nonprofits participating in the campaign this year are Compeer, Developmental & Disability Services of Lebanon Valley, Family First Health, Friends of Coleman Memorial, Habitat for Humanity, Halcyon, Jubilee Ministries, Lebanon County Christian Ministries, Lebanon Family Health Services, Lebanon Rescue Mission, Lebanon Valley Conservancy, Lebanon Valley Family YMCA, Making a Difference of Lebanon PA, Quest, SARCC, SHIFT, Spiritual-ation Foundation, Step Into Life Ministries, Union Community Care and United Way of Lebanon County.

Any organization with 501c3 nonprofit status can participate, Pennycoff noted; she hopes to see the number of nonprofits participating grow each year.

According to an online thermometer, which tracks donations to the campaign, Lebanon Gives had raised $1,926 from seven donors as of 2 p.m. Oct. 27.

“There hasn’t been a big push yet,” Pennycoff said. “The big push is over the next two weeks. We’re going to be talking on the radio. Every organization is going to be pushing out the message on social media.”

Then, on Nov. 19 and 26, Lebanon Gives will be set up at the Lebanon Farmers Market, taking donations and selling tickets for raffle baskets.

The final day of the campaign is Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29.

“You can come into the Y to drop off donations and buy raffle tickets,” Pennycoff said. “That evening, we are hosting a small event at the American Legion. We’ll have our thermometer actively going at the event, light refreshments, pulling winners to the raffle baskets. It’s kind of a networking mixer.”

Inspiration from across the border

Pennycoff said Lebanon Gives draws some inspiration from the Extraordinary Give, an annual fundraiser in Lancaster County that started in 2012 and has since raised $82 million for regional organizations.

Last year, 516 organizations in Lancaster County raised more than $15.8 million during the 24-hour event.

“Our vision to get to what the ExtraGive is, in Lancaster,” Pennycoff said. “Given that our community is smaller, I don’t know that we can hit that size, but that’s the level we aspire to.”

This is the Lebanon County fund drive’s sixth year of existence, she noted. In the first year, she said with a chuckle, “we were happy raising $2,500.”

“Each day throughout Lebanon County, nonprofit organizations are mobilizing scarce resources for a great impact. Feeding hungry families, holding hands during difficult times, giving care to children and adults, and making our communities safer and healthier. Year after year, our nonprofit organizations and the superheroes who power them find ways to do more with less,” the Lebanon Gives Planning Committee says in a solicitation letter.

“Together, we can do more than we ever could apart. Lebanon Gives calls on our community to pool our resources for collective change,” the letter states. “We are asking our community to go the extra mile by showing your love for Lebanon.”

The possibilities, Pennycoff told LebTown, are endless.

“If we could continue to build this momentum, we could be half the size of the Extraordinary Give,” she said. “We’re a little bit different — we don’t do all the extras, we don’t have the platform. But I hope to grow as big as we possibly can in Lebanon County.

“We’ve set some lofty goals.”

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Tom has been a professional journalist for nearly four decades. In his spare time, he plays fiddle with the Irish band Fire in the Glen, and he reviews music, books and movies for Rambles.NET. He lives with his wife, Michelle, and has four children: Vinnie, Molly, Annabelle and Wolf.