Community engagement has always been a big part of our culture at IP Services. That’s why we formed the IPS Connects committee almost four years ago in 2019. The IPS Connects committee is dedicated to finding new and creative ways to give back to the local Erie community. We want to create a better community and a better world.
Community Shelter Services
To kick off our community engagement efforts in 2022, we started off the calendar year with a donation drive for Community Shelter Services. Community Shelter Services was asking for donations of coffee grounds for their Emergency Shelter. Their Emergency Shelter provides beds, daily amenities, and other wellness and education services for up to 65 residents. They’re open 24/7 – and they go through a lot of coffee, especially in the cold months (and anyone in the Erie region knows how cold it can get here). We were able to donate the equivalent of 3,400 cups of coffee for the Shelter.
SafeNet Domestic Violence Safety Network
Our next community engagement project of the year was a donation drive for SafeNet Domestic Violence Safety Network. SafeNet is Erie’s only accredited domestic violence agency. They provide services to over 2,000 people each year. Their services include an emergency shelter, a 24/7 hotline, counseling, advocacy, and legal aid to those impacted by domestic violence. Their emergency shelter helps over 500 people each year, half of whom are under age 12. We raised more than $800 for SafeNet. Everyone at IP Services who donated during this drive was invited to a virtual chair yoga class hosted by a local yoga instructor.
Shriners Hospitals for Children
In April, we hosted a fundraiser drive on behalf of Shriners Hospitals for Children, one location of which is in Erie. Shriners Hospitals for Children provide specialized care for children with orthopedic conditions, spinal cord injuries, burns, and cleft lip and palate, regardless of the families’ ability to pay. We raised over $500 to support their cause. To thank everyone who donated, IPS Connects hosted an evening of ceramics painting at a local ceramics studio.
Our May event was to help a local teacher at Harding Elementary School who wanted to buy the entire Chronicles of Narnia series for her students to read. So, she posted her project on DonorsChoose, a website that allows public school teachers to ask for funding for materials they need to provide a quality education. We chose this project because, to quote our President Scott Yeager: “Buying books for kids?! That’s a slam dunk.” Our research for this event showed that Pennsylvania school districts are underfunded by $4.6 billion. (1) In Erie School District, over 80% of enrollment is from low-income families. (2) Harding Elementary School’s low-income enrollment percentage is 83.2%. We raised over $1,000 to fund the project and as a result, the teacher was able to purchase all the books for her students.
Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania
In June, we partnered with local restaurant Calamari’s Squid Row to host a fundraiser night. We raffled off prizes donated by local businesses, as well as a 10-foot kayak and paddle as the grand prize. In addition, Calamari’s donated 10% of the evening’s sales to the Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania. In total we raised over $1,200 for the Mental Health Association of NWPA, whose goal is to foster mental health awareness and bring healthy resources to the homeless and underserved members of the community.
Therapy Dogs United
Between our busy seasons in summer and autumn, we hosted a small fundraiser with Blaze Pizza for Therapy Dogs United. Therapy Dogs United hosts many different therapy dog programs to help individuals as they work through physical, emotional, behavioral, or other types of challenges. We raised almost $100 for them.
Annual Food Drive
Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
Our largest community engagement event of the year was our annual food drive to support Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania. This year we had a friendly competition with Velocity Network (VNET) to see whose staff could donate more cash and nonperishable food items. Second Harvest is the largest nonprofit food distribution organization in northwest PA. They serve 11 counties and distribute over 12 million pounds of food each year. IP Services raised over $2,200 and over 250 food items for them.
Family Holiday Drive
Erie United Methodist Association
Our penultimate community engagement event of the year was also an annual tradition. Previously, we had worked with the YMCA to identify one or two local families who could use some help around the Christmas holiday. This year, we worked with Erie United Methodist Association, who nominated two families who had only recently transitioned to permanent housing after having been without housing for some time. We invited our employees to help create a magical Christmas experience for both families. We were able to donate 75 Christmas gifts and over $550 in gift cards for these families.
Final Fundraiser in 2022
Because You Care Animal Rescue
Our final fundraiser event to conclude the year was a pet calendar. We invited employees to submit pictures and blurbs of their pets for compilation into a wall calendar for 2023. We donated all proceeds from the calendar sales to Because You Care Animal Rescue. Because You Care is dedicated to rescuing stray dogs and cats in the Erie area, providing them with the best possible environment in their adoption center, and helping all of them find the perfect forever home. We raised almost $250 for their cause.
If you’d like to donate to any of the organizations mentioned, you can find them here:
- Community Shelter Services
- SafeNet Domestic Violence Safety Network
- Shriners Hospitals for Children
- Donors Choose
- Mental Health Association of Northwestern Pennsylvania
- Therapy Dogs United
- Second Harvest Food Bank of Northwest Pennsylvania
- Erie United Methodist Alliance
- Because You Care Animal Rescue
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