Igniting the Passion to Help, Part 1

50 Midstate Charities and Nonprofits to Support by Volunteering


To proffer kindness, to assuage suffering, to advocate a worthy cause, to donate time and attention, to help another for no other reason than it’s the right thing to do – giving and volunteering are perhaps the most profoundly important, nobly human acts you can perform in this life.  It’s the antidote to selfishness and divisiveness as well as the key to community.

Wanting to volunteer is the easy part; actually doing so can be difficult, especially if a busy work schedule or family life leave little room for extra time.  You have to carve out space and make it priority, and the one sure-fire way to do that is to be supremely inspired by a charity or nonprofit organization that stirs the deepest of personal convictions.

To assist in finding the perfect charity or nonprofit with which to volunteer, Harrisburg Magazine has compiled a list of 50 midstate organizations to ignite the passion for helping.  While this list is by no means comprehensive, and there are many other amazing places to give your time to in the region, it is a good start.

Alzheimer’s Association Greater Pennsylvania
2595 Interstate Drive, Suite 100, Harrisburg
Mission: “To eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Events, community outreach, support-group facilitators, program ambassadors, committee members, advocates, early-stage social engagement, faith outreach ambassadors and more.

American Cancer Society
Hershey Office
Route 422 & Sipe Ave., Hershey
(717) 533-6144, cancer.org
Mission: “The American Cancer Society’s mission is to save lives, celebrate lives and lead the fight for a world without cancer.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Administrative and clerical, community events, education and advocacy, fundraising, online and social media, patient services and support, retail and hospitality and sports and recreation.

American Heart Association Capital Region
1019 Mumma Road, Wormleysburg
(717) 730-1783, heart.org
Mission: “To build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Go Red for Women, Heart Walk participation, fundraiser hosting, grass-roots advocacy, watching and sharing their one-minute Hands-Only CPR video and more.

American Red Cross of Central Pennsylvania
1804 N. 6th St., Harrisburg
(866) 311-3832, redcross.org
Mission: “The American Red Cross prevents and alleviates human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Administrative assistance, blood services, community events, disaster action, International Humanitarian Law campaign, regional communications, regional disaster, VIP center and much more. Offers both adult and youth opportunities.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy
Boiling Springs
(717) 258-5771, ext. 203, appalachiantrail.org
Mission: “To preserve and manage the Appalachian Trail – ensuring that its vast natural beauty and priceless cultural heritage can be shared and enjoyed today, tomorrow and for centuries to come.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Trail maintenance, keeping the footpath passable, maintaining and monitoring trail corridor, monitoring and removing invasive species and more.

The Arc of Dauphin County
2569 Walnut St., Harrisburg
(717) 920-2727, arcofdc.org
Mission: “To enhance quality of life and community integration for individuals with special needs.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: The Arc of Dauphin County is always looking for people with various backgrounds, talents and skill levels. For more information, fill out their volunteer form at arcofdc.org/volunteer.

Bethesda Mission
P.O. Box 3041, Harrisburg
(717) 257-4442, bethesdamission.org
Mission: “Since 1914, Bethesda Mission has been a missionary arm of the local church, reaching out to men, women and children of all races, nationalities and creeds, providing the poor and homeless with shelter, food, clothing, sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and discipling them in the Christian life.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Receptionists at men’s and women’s shelters, dental assistants on Fridays or Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., hygienists at the dental clinic on Fridays or Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., drivers with CDL license to help us with donation pick ups, after-school helpers for youth center (weekdays, 4 to 6 p.m.), nurses for medical clinic, Tuesday and Thursday evenings and after care for men and women as they graduate, among others.

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region
1500 N. 2nd St., Harrisburg
(717) 236-0199, capbigs.org
Mission: “Provide children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported, one-to-one relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Become a big brother or big sister.

Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg
1227 Berryhill St., Harrisburg
(717) 234-3268, bgchbg.org
Mission: “The mission of the Boys & Girls Club of Harrisburg is to serve as a neighborhood-based organization committed to serving youth of all backgrounds in developing self-esteem and character and to help them become responsible citizens by providing physical, recreational, social, educational and vocational programs.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Education, arts and crafts, social recreation, physical education and vocational.

Brethren Housing Association, Harrisburg
219 Hummel St., Harrisburg
(717) 233-6016, bha-pa.org
Mission: “To provide a holistic program of secure housing, supportive services and loving relationships. [They] want to help homeless and low-income individuals and families achieve their God-given potential.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Basic rehab and maintenance, skilled constructions, Bagwashi Circle mentor, youth mentoring, fundraising, mailing project, transporting donated furniture, events and more.

Caitlin’s Smiles
3303 N. 6th St., Harrisburg
(717) 412-4759, caitlins-smiles.org
How They Help: Caitlin’s Smiles “delivers arts and crafts kits to children facing chronic or life-threatening illnesses…reaching children in hospitals throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, Ohio, Maryland and the District of Columbia.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Craft-kit making, administrative, craft drives, deliveries, events, fundraising, tote-bag sewing and warehouse assistance.

Capital Area Greenbelt Association
P.O. Box 15405, Harrisburg
(717) 921-4733, caga.org
How They Help: “The Capital Area Greenbelt Association [CAGA] was formed as an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization to act as a liaison between all concerned parties and to organize and plan the continued stewardship of the Capital Area Greenbelt trail. CAGA was formed on the premise that users of public lands can and should accept some responsibility for taking care of ‘their’ lands, and this can best be accomplished by organizing volunteers to form long-term partnerships with government land-managing agencies.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Volunteer coordinator, project leaders, grant writers and native-plant gardeners.

Carlisle C.A.R.E.S.
50 W. Penn St., Carlisle
(717) 249-1009, carlislecares.org
How They Help: “Carlisle C.A.R.E.S. began as a mission through Carlisle United Methodist Church. After sheltering a few men for a night, members of the church and the community realized there was a much bigger issue that needed to be addressed. Initially, C.A.R.E.S. housed three or four homeless individuals during the harshest winter months through a network of three churches. Eventually, as support grew, C.A.R.E.S. was able to offer shelter year-round to as many as 60 guests each night.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Overnight, professional and resource-center volunteers as well as event-planning committees.

Castaway Critters, The James A. Hueholt Memorial Foundation for Animals
P.O. Box 1421, Harrisburg
(717) 831-5010, castawaycritters.org
Mission: “To save the lives of and provide new beginnings for lost, sick and abandoned companion animals through rescue, rehabilitation, adoptions and spay/neuter programs.  …To be the help that these animals would not otherwise have.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Adoption-event assistance, tabling events, local pet-stores help, transporting, fundraising, trap/neuter/return, grant writing, administrative, bottle feeding kittens and more.

Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Harrisburg
4800 Union Deposit Road, Harrisburg
(717) 657-4804, cchbg.org
How They Help: “Catholic Charities provides hope, help and support to thousands of families each year, regardless of their faith. [They] serve a 15-county region with programs ranging from maternity homes, adoption services, foster care and counseling to the only homeless shelter in Central Pennsylvania that keeps families intact. Most of [their] services are offered at minimal or no cost to the client.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Fundraising help, one-time projects for residential programs, special-skills teaching, sorting and organizing products and donations, help with mailings and more.

Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance
180 Walden Way, Mechanicsburg
(717) 503-8371, cpaa.info
How They Help: “The Central Pennsylvania Animal Alliance is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to saving the lives of animals through spay/neuter assistance, rescuing, adoptions, fostering, training and educating the community on responsible pet ownership.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Adopt-a-thons assistance, help with De-Sex in the City and trap/neuter/release clinics, Compassion with Fashion Show fundraising, work with Hounds of Prison Education (HOPE) Program, fostering, cat- and dog-care volunteering and more.

Central Pennsylvania Food Bank
3908 Corey Road, Harrisburg
(717) 561-1700, centralpafoodbank.org
How They Help: Dedicated to reducing hunger for the past 30 years, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves 27 counties and distributes more than 48 million pounds of food and grocery products every year from their facility in Harrisburg and their warehouse in Williamsport.
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Packaging food, repacking bulk foods, sorting and stocking shelves, pre-packing eldershare boxes, office works, helping with special events and more.

Cumberland County Library System
1601 Ritner Highway, Suite 100, Carlisle
(888) 697-0371, ext. 6175, cumberlandcountylibraries.org
Mission: “To plan, develop, coordinate and provide comprehensive public library services for residents through a cooperative network of public libraries.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Helping with special events or projects, taking books to nursing homes or shut-ins, cleaning and mending materials, opening boxes of new materials and putting jackets, labels and stickers on new materials.

Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging
2 S. 2nd St., 3rd Floor, Harrisburg
(717) 780-6130, dauphincounty.org
Mission: “The Dauphin County Area Agency on Aging provides essential services to residents of Dauphin County who are 60 years of age or older.  The agency recognizes the inherent dignity of older adults, and [they] strive to empower them with independence, safety and security.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: APPRISE State Health Insurance Assistance Program, home-delivered meals, senior center, transportation services, ombudsman and friendly visitor.

Dauphin County Library System
101 Walnut St., Harrisburg
(717) 234-4961, dcls.org
How They Help: “The Dauphin County Library System strengthens the community by promoting literacy and providing resources and services for information, education and recreation. The library provides quality public-library service to the residents of Dauphin County through eight library locations, a website and a 24-hour automated phone line.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Process book donations, assist with youth-service programs, delivery assistance, e-reader patron support, computer-basics patron support and general library work.

Dauphin County Parks and Recreation
100 Fort Hunter Road, Harrisburg
(717) 599-5188, dauphincounty.org
How They Help: “Dauphin County’s Parks and Recreation Department provides people of all ages the opportunity to learn about and enjoy our community. The Dauphin County Park system includes seven areas: the Community Gardens, Fort Hunter Park, Fort Hunter Conservancy, Henninger Farm Covered Bridge, Lykens Glen Park, Wiconisco Creek Park and Wildwood Park.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Assisting at events, teaching school workshops, Nature Center front desk, shopping, educational programing, office and clerical, landscape maintenance and projects, trail trimming and public-relations presentations.

Dress for Success South Central PA
29 S. 10th St., Harrisburg
(717) 232-1333, southcentralpa.dressforsuccess.org
Mission: “To empower women to achieve economic independence by providing a network of support, professional attire and development tools to help women thrive in work and in life.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Personal shopper, career-center specialist, Professional Women’s Group speaker, mentor for Professional Women’s Group, special events and fundraising, short-term consulting projects, tabling events and administrative support.

Easter Seals Western and Central Pennsylvania, Harrisburg
3029 N. Front St., Harrisburg
(717) 901-3993
Mission: “Easter Seals provides exceptional programs and services to ensure that people with disabilities or other special needs and their families have equal opportunities to live, learn, work and play in their communities. [They] provide programs in Pittsburgh, Franklin, Oil City, Johnstown, Somerset, State College, York and Harrisburg.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Event-committee participation, events and fundraisers, helping at a school site or adult day service site and more.

Four Diamonds at Penn State Children’s Hospital
1249 Cocoa Avenue, Suite 115, Hershey
(717) 531-6086, fourdiamonds.org
Mission: “To conquer childhood cancer by assisting children treated at Penn State Children’s Hospital and their families through superior care, comprehensive support and innovative research.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Playing games with children and child life specialists, delivering flowers to patients, greeting and directing visitors at the information desk and running errands in the outpatient clinic areas.

Furry Friends Network
P.O. Box 519, Boiling Springs
How They Help: “Furry Friends Network is a nonprofit, all-volunteer animal adoption organization. [Their] philosophy is to help those animals that did not ask to be born, that are often the result of human ignorance. Any animal, no matter its age, can offer love and companionship to the right person. [They are] not a shelter, but instead use a foster-home network to house the animals until permanent, indoor homes can be found, offering second chances at lifetimes of love and happiness.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Dog walking, cat care, assisting foster homes, fundraising, humane education, pet therapy, administrative work, fostering, transporting animals and more.

Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area
900 S. Arlington Ave., Harrisburg
(717) 545-7299, harrisburghabitat.org
How They Help: “Habitat for Humanity of the Greater Harrisburg Area is a local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat is an ecumenical housing ministry with the goal of eliminating poverty housing. Unwilling to accept the fact that thousands of families live without adequate shelter, Habitat challenges and invites individuals, religious organizations of all faiths, companies, foundations and other organizations to join with us to improve the living conditions of people existing in inadequate housing. In order to do that, Habitat creates a joint venture in which those families who benefit from the housing contribute their labor in the form of 350 ‘sweat equity hours’ to the successful completion of the home.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Construction, non-construction and ReStore volunteers.

Harrisburg Area YMCA
East Shore, West Shore, Northern Dauphin County and Camp Curtin
(717) 232-2068, ymcaharrisburg.org
Mission: “The Harrisburg Area YMCA is a nonprofit, charitable organization committed to aid in the spiritual, mental and physical development of each person enabling them to be beneficial and contributing members of our society.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Help children become better readers, referee and coach youth sports, assisting with races (5k, Harrisburg Mile, Half Marathon), assist with annual fundraisers, teach fitness classes and swim lessons, helping with teen-mentoring programs, tour guides, front-desk attendants and more.

The Helen O. Krause Animal Foundation
P.O. Box 311, Mechanicsburg
(717) 697-3377, helenkrause.org
How They Help: “The shelter, founded by the late Helen Opperman Krause, now sits on approximately two acres of landscaped grounds in a rural community and consists of a state-of-the-art main cat shelter built in 1999, a recently remodeled cat shelter annex and a dog kennel. At any given time, this complex is home to as many as 140 cats and kittens and 10 dogs. In addition to providing refuge to homeless dogs and cats, [they] adopt companion animals, both dogs and cats, into permanent homes in the community; provide information on low-cost spay/neuter services; and participate in community-service volunteer programs.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Cage cleaning, litter-box maintenance, feeding, general shelter cleaning, laundry, grooming, kennel cleaning, walking dogs and more.

The Historical Society of Dauphin County
219 S. Front St., Harrisburg
(717) 233-3462, dauphincountyhistory.org
Mission: “To collect, preserve, exhibit, publish and promote interest in the history of Dauphin County for the benefit of the public.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Program and event staffing, docent and group tour guide, archives and collections projects, office and marketing projects and gardening and grounds care.

Hospice of Central Pennsylvania
1320 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg
(717) 732-1000, hospiceofcentralpa.org
Mission: To provide “support for individuals and families who are coping with any type of life-limiting illness through professional, compassionate, people-centered care. [They] care for individuals and families through the coordinated delivery of emotional, physical and spiritual support of the highest quality.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Patient care/family support, Carolyn Croxton Slane Residence volunteering, informing community of services at health fairs and community groups, bereavement program support, clerical, transportation and more.

Humane Society of Harrisburg Area
7790 Grayson Road, Harrisburg
(717) 564-3320, humanesocietyhbg.org
Mission: “To build a better community for pets and people through compassion, protection, education and collaboration.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Dog walking, cat socializing, exotic animal socializing, PR and events assistance, office assistance, laundry and dishes, clinic assistance, pet photos, grounds keeping and fostering.

Jewish Community Foundation of Central Pennsylvania
3211 N. Front St., Harrisburg
(717) 236-9555, pajewishendowment.org
How They Help: “The Jewish Community Foundation is a donor-centered charitable agency dedicated to accumulating enduring assets to support the stability and continuity of Jewish life in Central Pennsylvania and elsewhere.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Fundraiser assistance, expertise sharing, newcomer welcoming, committee service, volunteering with partner agencies and donation.

Jump Street
21 S. 3rd St., Harrisburg
(717) 238-1887, jumpstreet.org
Mission: “Jump Street is dedicated to developing educational and economic opportunities with the arts for all age groups.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Sharing artistic talents, work alongside teaching artists, office assistance, Derby Day or Artsfest of Greater Harrisburg committee service, sponsorship or general event help and more.

Keystone Humane Services
124 Pine St., Harrisburg
(717) 232-7509, keystonehumanservices.org
How They Help: “Keystone Human Services provides community-based services for children, adolescents, adults and families in the areas of intellectual disabilities, autism, mental health, early intervention and children and family services. In addition, [they] provide technical assistance to governments and other organizations to develop frameworks of support for people with disabilities. [They] also support educational efforts to promote community understanding and awareness of the value and importance of inclusion for all people in all aspects of society. [They] offer services and supports in Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware in the United States, as well as parts of Eastern Europe and India.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Volunteering at special events (Chocolatefest Weekend, PawsAbilities, the Keystone Golf Tournament and more), maintenance projects, Head Start classroom help, in-kind donations, Adopt a Home, showers to collect new or nearly new items for homes, assistance in making presentations, wish-list donations and more.

Kidney Foundation of Central Pennsylvania
1500 Paxton St., Suite 101, Harrisburg
(717) 652-8123, kfcp.org
Mission: “To provide these communities with health outreach and screenings for kidney disease, services and support for people whose lives are impacted by kidney disease and advocacy for living-organ donation in order to reduce the wait for a life-saving kidney transplant.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Event assistance for PA Auto Show, World Kidney Day, Highmark Walk for a Healthy Community at HACC, Annual KFCP Golf Tournament, Elegant Progressions, health fairs and senior expos, clerical/office projects and more.

Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Central Pennsylvania
2405 Park Drive, Suite 100, Harrisburg
(717) 652-6520, lls.org/central-pennsylvania
Mission: “Cure Leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life of patients and their families. …LLS exists to find cures and ensure access to treatments for blood-cancer patients. [They] are the voice for all blood cancer patients, and [they] work to ensure access to treatments for all blood-cancer patients.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Fundraising events (Team In Training, Light The Night Walk and Student Series programs), office support, donor development, patient services and family support groups, education programs, advocacy to local legislators, corporate sponsorships and expos and health fairs.

LGBT Center of Central PA
1306 N. 3rd St., Harrisburg | (717) 920-9534, centralpalgbtcenter.org
Mission: “To create common ground for the LGBT community and allies in Central Pennsylvania by providing services through educational, cultural and community activities that foster wholeness.” They “seek to create a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment; provide and support comprehensive programs throughout the community; and embrace diversity, health and wellness.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: The LGBT Center of Central PA is always in search of volunteers offering a variety of talents and interests. For more information, email info@centralpalgbtcenter.org.

Make-A-Wish® Philadelphia, Northern Delaware & Susquehanna Valley
1054 New Holland Avenue, Lancaster
(717) 283-4880, philasv.wish.org
Mission: To “grant the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy.”
Volunteer Needs/Opportunities: Become a Wish Granter, enlist speakers bureau, assist at events, get involved with Kids For Wish Kids® or Wishmakers On Campus® and more.