An online vote organized by the Eastern Pennsylvania chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) highlights the creativity and capacity to give that enriches community life throughout the year.

The chapter’s 2017 Special Project of the Year vote begins Monday, Sept. 25, and continues through Friday, Oct. 13 at Voters can choose from five finalist projects that demonstrate nonprofit and philanthropic excellence, raises awareness about an organization, and supports that organization’s mission. Each person may cast one vote each day. This is the second year of the Special Project of the Year’s online vote.

The Special Project of the Year Award is one of the awards that the AFP chapter will bestow during its 2017 National Philanthropy Day Breakfast on Wednesday, Nov. 1. Presented by the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation, the breakfast will be held at DeSales University. Tickets are available for purchase at

The five 2017 Special Project of the Year finalists are as follows:

  • The Friends of the Allentown Parks and Faith Church for their #LoveLehighValley project. Approximately 2,700 volunteers from Faith Church, several Allentown neighborhood associations, businesses and individuals spent their day cleaning up 29 Allentown parks during this single-day event in April 2017. Along with clearing trash and invasive plants, the volunteers painted park benches, mulched playgrounds, and removed graffiti from playground equipment.
  • The Friends of the Bethlehem Public Library for its April in Paris event. The group’s 2017 fundraiser transformed the library’s Bob Cohen Room into The City of Light, served champagne and French delicacies, and gave patrons an opportunity to bid on original photographs of Paris. This year’s event netted nearly $13,000, a 44 percent increase over the previous year.
  • Jillian Massey of Coopersburg, PA, for her Sassy Massey Toy Drive for Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Jillian was a spunky four-year-old girl battling brain cancer at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) who wanted to give back to her friends after she had become well enough to return home. She and her family started a toy drive through Facebook and collected approximately 3,000 toys. Her story gained attention nationally from outlets such as ABC News.
  • The Penn Foundation Autumn Event Committee for its annual autumn event. These autumn events have raised $1.8 million for the Penn Foundation in Sellersville, PA since 2004. The autumn event features a celebrity speaker and a silent auction benefitting Camp Mariposa – a national program for children living with addiction in their family.
  • Valley Youth House for its America’s British Reliability Run. This three-day, 550-mile rally ride through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, and West Virginia raised more than $35,000 for Valley Youth House’s street outreach program, The Synergy Project. Synergy Project staff members visit freight train yards, transportation stations, tent-cities and homeless camps offering assistance to many young people.

Additional AFP Eastern PA Chapter award categories include the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award, the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award, the Outstanding Business Award, the Outstanding Foundation Award, the Outstanding Fundraising Executive Award, the Outstanding Philanthropist Award, and the Rising Star Award.

The chapter also will present its new Lona M. Farr, Ph.D., ACFRE, Award of Distinction for a Fundraising Professional to the award’s namesake. The new award will be given at the chapter’s intense discretion to an elite individual who has exemplified throughout an accomplished career the highest standards of excellence and the most critical quality of a fundraiser – the commitment to give of their time, their talents, and their treasure to their fullest capability. By making these gifts, an honoree transcends the traditional role of a fundraiser and is recognized as a peer by the region’s philanthropic leaders.

Presented by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), National Philanthropy Day (NPD) is a special day set aside to recognize and pay tribute to the great contributions that philanthropy – and those people active in the philanthropic community – have made to our lives, our communities, and our world. National and regional events held on or around Nov. 15 recognize activities of donors, volunteers, foundations, leaders, corporations, and others engaged in philanthropy.

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