Every year for the past five years, the Lancaster County Community Foundation has sponsored the Extraordinary Give, a twenty-four-hour online give-a-thon that supports upwards of 400 nonprofits in Lancaster County. From 12 AM until 11:59 PM, organizations rally all their supporters to donate money to their cause. The friendly competition among the charities and programs allows each organization to track not only how much money they raise, but also how many individuals give to their cause.
From homeless shelters to after-school programs for at-risk kids to golden retriever rescues to rehab programs, Lancasters nonprofits touch every sector of need that our county faces. Many help refugees adjust to life in the US, each specializing in a niche such as English literacy programs, bicycles for transportation, smartphones and instructions for them, and career training. Many also deal with health and safety, including hospitals, counseling centers, and elderly care. All these organizations spend the 4-8 weeks prior to the big day reaching out to their donors and supporters to remind them of all the work they do, the impact of it, and the funds they need to keep offering services to those in needs. Email blasts, video campaigns, and social media posts began as a trickle and turned to a roaring stream as the day of the give approached.
On the day of the Extraordinary Give, this year on November 17, the whole county celebrates the community, its diversity, and the difference each member makes every day. The City of Lancaster serves as the epicenter of the activity, featuring food trucks, musical performances, period actors in costumes, giveaways, balloons, karaoke, photo booths, and countless more attractions supplied by the nonprofits themselves or some of their supporters.
This past year, the Extraordinary Give shattered all past records — in just 24 hours, the foundation had collected $8.6 million dollars total, including corporate sponsors and individual gifts of various sizes. Community members kept a close eye on the counter at ExtraGive.org for a live update on the donation count throughout the day, and at the stroke of midnight, the final tally was announced at a party at the Lancaster Marriot Hotel to a crowd of excited (if not exhausted) Lancastrians making their last-minute donations.
For a small county in the middle of PA, this kind of money is unheard of, but the community continues to rally behind those who are making a difference for people and animals in need.