Breaking News
More () »

Replacing traditional gifts with charitable donations and ensuring your money ends up in the right hands | FOX43 Reveals

FOX43 Reveals how donations in someone's name to local nonprofits may be the best gifts of all this holiday season.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — Americans gave at a record level last year and they’re on track to give even more this year. With delivery delays and supply chain issues, charitable donations on someone’s behalf may become more popular than traditional gifts this holiday season. 

FOX43 Reveals how to maximize your holiday spirit and ensure your donation ends up in the right hands.

Against a backdrop of blue skies and rolling hills, the Lancaster Farm Sanctuary in Mount Joy Township, Lancaster County, offers a paradise for animals that were once headed down a deadly path. In a few short years, the nonprofit organization has rescued dozens of farm animals from slaughter, abuse or neglect.

They take in animals seized by law enforcement during animal cruelty cases and save others that may have fallen off trucks headed for slaughter. Each animal has its own, unique story—like Jude, a 1-year-old calf rescued from a local dairy farm. Jude was born with a cleft lip, cleft palate and several infectious diseases.

“He just was so sickly when he was little. Nobody thought he was going to make it,” said Sarah Salluzzo, executive director of the Lancaster Farm Sanctuary.

Jude spend the first six months of his life in a hospital. Donor dollars helped Sarah and her partner afford the tens of thousands of dollars in vet bills. Now, he’s thriving at the sanctuary and has become a local celebrity. Jude’s story captured hearts all over the world.

“We’ve had people fly in from all over the U.S. just to meet Jude. Well, just look at him!,” Sarah laughed as Jude playfully tossed a bale of hay around in the distance.

This holiday season, gifting donations is becoming a popular choice instead of presents wrapped under the tree. By choosing a local organization, donors can visit the charities and see the real-life impact their contribution has made.

People can choose to sponsor a farm animal in someone’s name at the sanctuary or, perhaps, build a stable relationship at Greystone Manor Therapeutic Riding Center in Upper Leacock Township, Lancaster County. The nonprofit provides equine assisted activities for children and adults with special needs.

“I think a lot of times people are quick to put someone else in a box, and when you put them with a horse, a horse doesn’t see all of those restrictions,” said Stephanie Fleck, Greystone Manor’s program director. “It really opens doors to possibilities and opportunities that wouldn’t have existed before.”

The organization’s Adopt-a-Horse program allows Greystone Manor to accept all interested participants, regardless of their ability to pay. Adopt-a-Horse sponsorship dollars are used to provide board, daily turnout, feed and hay, veterinary care, and horseshoes for the equines. Donors can visit the stables to meet the horses and choose the horse they would like to adopt.  

“It’s so exciting to see where your donation dollars are going in-person and meet the people who are being directly affected by it,” said Jennifer Rummel, executive director at Greystone Manor. “And meet the horses who are being directly affected by it.”

FOX43 Reveals that charitable giving reached a historic high in 2020, despite an economic downturn caused by the pandemic. Americans gave a record $471 billion to charities last year, according to a Giving USA report.

GlobalGiving, a nonprofit that connects donors to other nonprofits around the world, saw a 40 percent increase in the number of donations made in someone’s honor through their Tribute cards.  

This year was their biggest Giving Tuesday to date—a strong indication that people are giving more. GlobalGiving has vetted more than 9,400 nonprofits that receive funds through their organization. It is a process that everyone should do before choosing a charity to donate to.

“There is this risk of putting money in the wrong hands, either by accident or just because folks are not necessarily looking at the full picture of the charity,” said Donna Callejon, interim CEO of Global Giving.

More stores are selling gift boxes where you can adopt a big cat or another endangered species. Always read the fine print. In most cases, only a fraction of the retail price actually goes to that organization and it is not guaranteed it will go towards what you intended.

Gift Republic makes adoption packages that work with charities such as People's Trust for Endangered Species (PTES) or Pandas International. However, only ten percent of the $30 gift will go to these charities and, if for any reason your chosen project is unavailable, the charity will allocate the donation wherever they feel the need is greatest.

So why not answer the call of the wild a little closer to home? Donations are the driving force behind the mission at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA in Lititz. They take in wolves and wolf-dogs from all over the country. The rescue situations could be anywhere from abuse cases to illegal ownership.

“We have 53 wolves and wolf-dogs on the property and each one of them has a different personality and different quirks, so from a behavioral aspect, it’s really fun to get to know all of them and really have them become part of our family,” said Joe Warker, animal care technician at the Wolf Sanctuary of PA.

The nonprofit’s symbolic adoption program is an integral part to the sanctuary’s growth. It helps them provide care for the beloved creatures, maintain upkeep of the 80 plus acres and take in more rescues.

Bottom line: if you’re looking to give the gift that keeps on giving, South Central Pennsylvania is home to many unique nonprofits that need a little extra help in the piggy bank this holiday season. And the best part? You can visit and see the impact your donor dollars have made.

FOX43 Reveals issues that affect you and your family to keep you informed. If you have a topic you want us to investigate, send us an email at FOX43reveals@FOX43.com.

Download the FOX43 app here.

Before You Leave, Check This Out