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'Giving Day' raises $126,000 for Valley organizations

| Saturday, Oct. 27, 2012, 11:49 a.m.

More than $126,000 was donated to 13 Ligonier Valley organizations from a countywide Day of Giving, organized by the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County.

This year's online giving event, held for 24 hours, was Oct. 3.

Donations in Westmoreland County increased by 57 percent to total $682,212 donated. Fourteen cents of every $1 donated will be matched by a group of private donors and included in the check sent to the 110 organizations that participated.

“We were thrilled just to really, really eclipse where we were last year,” said Susan Acito, associate program officer with the Community Foundation of Westmoreland County. “It was just a sure sign that people understand the value that nonprofits bring to Westmoreland County and this region.”

Ligonier Camp and Conference Center led Westmoreland in funds for the second year in a row, with $44,180 in public donations and a $6,185 match. Last year, it received more than $37,000.

The Ligonier Valley YMCA and Valley School of Ligonier also placed in the top 10 groups that received the most money in Westmoreland County donations on the Day of Giving.

Patrick Myers, executive director for the Ligonier Camp and Conference Center, said the organization uses the Day of Giving as a kickoff for its year-end fundraising campaign. The center relies on donations for about 20 percent of its annual budget to keep the cost of summer camp affordable for the average family, Myers said.

At least $70,000 in individual donations go toward the summer camp's operations budget.

Center staff reached out to families of its campers to ask for donations on the Day of Giving. Past campers from decades ago have proven to be generous, Myers said.

“You do everything that you can do but you never now for sure what the response is going to be, so it was pretty exciting to see,” Myers said.

Ligonier Valley YMCA received about $20,000 in donations.

“It's great to see that we continue to have the community support. It's great to see that people have seen the investment the Y has made in our community,” said Y Executive Director Ben Wright.

Wright said the money will help fund scholarships, programs and equipment rentals, repairs or purchases.

The Y is hoping to raise $175,000 in donations this year, eight percent of the Y's $2 million total budget.

Valley School of Ligonier brought in about $1,000 more donations during the Day of Giving than last year's Day, totalling about $16,435, before the matching funds.

The school's goal was to use social media, such as Facebook and Twitter, to reach out to new donors and reconnect with old alumni for the Day of Giving, according to Mallory Reese, interim director of development for the school.

“We're really excited about the results,” Reese said. “We were able to get some new donors and we reconnected with some alumni, which was great because it also shows people are keeping in touch through social media.”

Reese said the Day of Giving is the kickoff to their annual fund drive. This year, the goal is to raise $175,000 to go into the school's general fund which pays for anything from light bulbs in class rooms to faculty and staff training to tuition assistance and scholarships, Reese said.

Other Ligonier organizations that benefited from the Day of Giving include Bethlen Communities, Fort Ligonier Association, Ligonier Valley Historical Society, Ligonier Valley Learning Center Inc., Ligonier Valley Library Association, Ligonier Valley Rail Road Association, Loyalhanna Watershed Association Inc., New Florence Community Library, Powdermill Nature Reserve and Valley Players of Ligonier.

Jewels Phraner and Jennifer Reeger are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Phraner can be reached at 724-850-1218 or Reeger can be reached at 724-836-6155 or