The approaching Pittsburgh winter brings consistently colder temperatures (finally) and holiday get-togethers, and kicks off a season of giving. Perhaps dating back to medieval tradition, studies show people are most inclined to give at the year’s end — something local organizations rely on. From gathering books, food, and winter clothing donations, to a final fundraising push for key projects, to preparing for the 2024 election season, the region’s nonprofits are hard at work on a range of issues and services. So where should you direct your giving spirit? For our 2023 Giving Guide, Pittsburgh City Paper asked local organizations what their most urgent needs are now through the holiday season, and how readers can best contribute.
Founded in 1972, Persad Center is a regional behavioral health and human service organization with a mission to improve the well-being of the LGBTQ communities and HIV/AIDS communities through outreach, prevention, counseling, and training services. With two locations, in Lawrenceville and Washington, Pa., it’s the second oldest organization of its kind in the United States.
Donations: Monetary donations are “always helpful,” Director of Communications and Development Christine Bryan tells Pittsburgh City Paper, as they contribute directly to mental health services for clients. According to Bryan, more than half of Persad’s clients identify as transgender or gender nonconforming, and the majority use Medical Assistance to access care. Donations can be made online or by mailing a check to Persad Center, 5301 Butler St., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15201.
Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bankpittsburghfoodbank.org
The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank works with a network of partners across 11 Pa. counties to source, warehouse, and distribute food, and confront issues of chronic hunger, poor nutrition, and health. Contribute through:
Volunteering: “Volunteers are the heart of our mission to feed people in need,” the Food Bank tells City Paper, and a range of opportunities are available from sorting food, to building healthy food boxes for seniors, to helping harvest food through farm programs. Volunteers can sign up online or email [email protected].
Participating in Year-End Fundraisers: The Food Bank is accepting donations through KDKA-TV’s Turkey Fund through Dec. 31, noting that each dollar “can provide enough food for up to three meals.” Donations of $50 or more made at PNC Bank will be matched up to $75,000. For those wanting to get into the Christmas spirit, the Food Bank will appear at Santa’s House as part of the Peoples Gas Holiday Market from Sat., Nov. 18 (Light Up Night) through Dec. 24. Visitors receive a photo with Santa for a suggested $10 donation. Readers can also give year-round — including vehicle donations — online, over the phone at (412) 460-3663, and by mail at One N. Linden St., Duquesne, Pa. 15110.
Social Media: Follow and engage with the Food Bank’s social media. All handles are @PGHFoodBank.
Abolitionist Law Centerabolitionistlawcenter.org
The Abolitionist Law Center (ALC) is a Pittsburgh-based public interest law firm that fights for the human rights of prisoners and organizes against mass incarceration and state violence on a local, state, and national level. They recommend three ways to get involved:
Donations: Make a tax-deductible, monetary donation online.
Volunteering: Volunteer with ALC’s Court Watch Program, which observes and documents the Allegheny County justice system for public reporting and packs courtrooms to support defendants at key hearings.
Social Media: Join ALC’s email list and follow and engage with their social media.
Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburghhumaneanimalrescue.org
For the holidays, Humane Animal Rescue of Pittsburgh (HARP) — one of Pennsylvania’s largest animal welfare organizations — tells CP they’re focused on providing supplies to pet owners so that “furry family members can share in the joy of the coming season.” Animal lovers can help out through:
Monetary Donations: HARP encourages making monetary donations online.
Supply Donations: The organization also seeks unopened cat and dog food (wet and dry), treats, non-clumping, unscented cat litter, and pet toys. Readers can give to HARP’s two animal shelters via wish lists on Amazon and Chewy, or to a wishlist for its wildlife rehabilitation center in Verona. A list of items needed can be found online with all three HARP locations accepting supplies.
Volunteering: HARP is “always in need of fosters and volunteers” to work with their animals, with a particularly urgent need for veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Volunteer information is available online.
1Hood Media is a collective of socially conscious artists and activists who use art and culture to shift power, activate communities, and increase civic engagement. The Pittsburgh organization tells CP they’re gearing up for the 2024 election cycle and, “recognizing the lack of information, support, and connection between Black communities and elected officials,” they aim to “bring information to communities through art, music, food, and joy.” Readers can support the organization’s mission through:
Donations: Monetary donations support programming such as 1Hood’s People, Politics, and Power voter awareness and activation events, digital canvassing, expanded voter education, and in-person engagement events.
Volunteering: Volunteers are needed for voter outreach, program and event support, general help, and more.
Allegheny Land Trustalleghenylandtrust.org
A conservation nonprofit created in 1993, Allegheny Land Trust’s (ALT) Lindsay Dill says CP readers can help save local land this winter by donating to “one or all three” of the organization’s large projects. Donations from individuals are “crucial,” ALT’s website notes, as they provide funds to cover land purchases and matching dollars to access state grants.
“Donations to these projects ensure a more resilient region for residents today and for generations to come,” Dill, ALT’s Senior Director of Marketing and Community Engagement, says, “through conserved clean air and water, wildlife habitat, scenic character, and opportunities for outdoor recreation and environmental education.” Readers can visit ALT’s donation page online, and learn about their current projects such as:
Lowries Run Slopes Expansion Project: Donations help ALT acquire and permanently protect 24 acres of woodlands along Lowries Run in Ross Township, expanding an existing ALT conservation area and creating a 67-acre contiguous greenway in a busy corridor.
Located on Penn Avenue in Garfield, Assemble is a community space for arts and technology education, offering all-ages STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) programming. The growing nonprofit encourages CP readers to become “STEAM advocates” for year’s end and emphasizes three areas of need:
Donations: Gifts support Assemble’s STEAM programs, which “utilize a unique pedagogy that emphasizes process over product and adapts to an individual’s needs.” The nonprofit tells CP that monetary donations “this giving season allow us to provide free and low-cost programming throughout Pittsburgh, helping to keep STEAM education accessible for everyone.”
Corporate Sponsorship: Sponsors are needed to support annual programming and fundraisers such as Assemble’s STEAM summer camps for a range of grade levels (last year, free to Garfield residents), MakerDate auction fundraiser, and events for adults.
Volunteering: See ways to get involved online.
SisTers PGH is a Black- and trans-led nonprofit serving the transgender community in southwestern Pennsylvania. They provide a variety of resources and support services including housing and utility assistance, and operate a drop-in community and resource center for trans and gender nonconforming people. The organization tells CP they’re currently accepting in-kind donations at their community center in Swissvale.
Donations: Readers can donate clothing, canned goods, personal items, toiletries, and gift cards to SisTer PGH’s resource center at 2014 Monongahela Ave., Pittsburgh, Pa. 15218. The center is open for donations weekdays (except Wednesdays) from 10 a.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh Prison Book Projectpghprisonbookproject.org
Since 2000, the Pittsburgh Prison Book Project (PPBP) has been sending free books and educational materials to prisoners across Pennsylvania, who often have no means of obtaining reading material. The project is an all-volunteer effort from the Big Idea Bookstore at the Thomas Merton Center. Support their work through:
Monetary Donations: Both one-time contributions and sustaining donors are needed; give through Thomas Merton Center’s PayPal.
Book Donations: Books can be purchased through PPBP’s Bookshop.org Wish List, which includes high-demand titles not often donated. Email [email protected] for other book donations. Paper bags (for example, from Trader Joe’s) are also needed for wrapping book packages.
Casa San Josecasasanjose.org
Casa San Jose connects, supports, and advocates with and for the Latino community, operating a resource center in Pittsburgh. The nonprofit tells CP a central focus right now is their capital campaign to expand operations and renovate a four-story building in Beechview, which will provide a new, centralized space for ESL classes, youth programming, events, and 27 staff. According to Executive Director Monica Ruiz, the population that Casa San Jose services has grown from 400 to 4,000 in only three years, and they hope the new building can serve as a community hub for the entire Beechview neighborhood, which currently has no youth center. CP readers can help by making:
Food and Clothing Donations: Casa San Jose is also preparing to distribute Christmas meals. Check their donation page in December for opportunities to contribute ingredients like fresh vegetables and dry goods. In addition, the organization collects toys and accepts coats and other winter clothing all season long.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburghcarnegielibrary.org
Supporting literacy and serving as a community anchor across the region, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP) operates 19 neighborhood locations and offers a variety of programs for patrons. The nonprofit tells CP that donations make it possible to keep the library and its resources “free to the people.” How can you contribute?
Buy Gifts at the Library Shop: Located at CLP’s Main (Oakland) branch at 4400 Forbes Ave., bookworms can visit the library shop, support CLP, and get some holiday shopping done by buying merchandise, including T-shirts, hoodies, scarves, bags, and candles. You can also shop CLP online through Commonwealth Press.