PNA Members leading the way

Local newspapers give back to the community

It is no secret local newspapers are an invaluable resource to the communities they serve. They deliver local, national and international news to keep readers informed, raise public awareness about issues affecting the community, promote small businesses with advertising and cover local events that bring people together. However some papers take their commitment to community service to a higher level by planning charitable events. The efforts of three Pennsylvania NewsMedia Association members highlight how newspapers can strengthen their ties to the community through leadership, goodwill and compassion.

The Herald and Allied News

The Sharon Herald in Sharon and Allied News in Grove City partner each year with the Community Foundation of western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio on the Good News Fund. Formed after the closure of Sharon Steel in 1992 to help families affected by layoffs, the annual fund has been a staple of the region for 31 years.

From October through November both papers ask their readers for financial donations to the fund. These contributions, in turn, provide free turkeys for families in need at Christmas. The turkeys are purchased at a local grocery store in Hermitage, Donofrio’s, and distributed by the Community Food Warehouse of Mercer County.

The 2023 campaign concluded with a whopping $14,654 raised by the community to provide about 275 Christmas turkeys to families who need a helping hand. This year’s event raised the largest donation amount since the pandemic.

The Tribune-Democrat

The Tribune-Democrat in Johnstown builds upon its commitment to service with the annual Santa Fund toy drive. Now in its 17th year, the partnership with the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies provides toys to underprivileged children 12 years old or younger in the Johnstown area.

For 2023, donation requests began early September with an in-print and online campaign on all Tribune-Democrat platforms. However, the donation drive is not confined to print and digital advertising only. This is where a real community effort emerges to make this annual tradition a heartwarming success. An annual high school all-star soccer match, the Santa Fund Soccer Classic, drew a large crowd the weekend before Thanksgiving; attendees donated exclusively to the fund.

A regional grocery store, Ken’s BiLo in northern Cambria County, served as an official 2023 sign-up and donation site. As the financial donations were tallied the call went out for volunteers to help transport, sort and distribute gifts. High school students across the region including those in the Greater Johnstown High School Key Club, Greater Johnstown High School football team, and local Boy and Girl Scout troops signed up to do their part, an excellent teaching moment for kids to learn the importance of giving back to those less fortunate. Even the Tomahawks, the city’s minor league hockey team, took time from the start of their season to help.

By early December it was toy-shopping time at Boscov’s department store in the Johnstown Galleria. Toys were handed out to the parents of a record 1,700 children enrolled in the program Dec. 13 at the Pasquerilla Conference Center in Johnstown.

The community banded together to ensure a better Christmas for hundreds of families. The army of volunteers and donors had the satisfaction of knowing their money, time and effort went to help friends and neighbors enjoy the holiday season.

At this time of year, we count our blessings, give thanks, celebrate the joy and wonder of the season, and look with optimism toward a new year. By helping those less fortunate and giving back to families in need, communities grow stronger and increasingly connected.

It is no secret local newspapers are leading the way.