Page 22 - 2022 Chester County Guide & CCCBI Membership Directory
P. 22

 Chester County Nonprofits Provide a Hand Up to Residents
Nonprofits are an integral part of any community, and Chester County is no exception. Agencies, their staff and volunteers step up in countless ways each day to address the needs of their neighbors.
Take a closer look at three organizations that improve the quality of life in Chester County each day.
HHC was born in 2003 as the brainchild of Patti Knecht and her husband, Duane. As a service project, the Knechts suggested to their sons that they might like to get together with some friends and family members, and maybe the boys’ school, to collect gently used toys and other items that could be redistributed to needy families at Christmas.
At the time, Patti Knecht worked for the Chester County Intermediate Unit (CCIU), while her husband worked for a major local employer, CTDI. Between both their connections, the Knechts were able to organize a holiday donation event that served more than 100 families.
Today, HHC runs annual holiday shopping events at four different CCIU building locations. Shoppers in need of free holiday gifts are referred to the HHC events by other community organizations. “They come in with a voucher that can be exchanged for dollars, and they spend the dollars in the store,” Knecht said. However, if someone turns up without a referral, “we find a way to serve them that day or later. We have never turned anyone away.”
Over the years, organizations ranging from Girl Scout troops to softball teams have volunteered to collect gifts and set up the stores for HHC’s events. Depending on who is involved each year, HHC can also create different kinds of pleasant holiday experiences for families while they shop for items. “One year, there was a violinist playing, one year there was caroling,” Knecht said. “Other years, we’ve had high school students making ornaments with children while they wait for their parents to pick out gifts.”
Families are also assigned “personal shoppers” who help distract children while a parent picks out a specific gift, or who might help carry a family’s shopping.
Originally, HHC offered mostly used items alongside some new items, but “over the years, we flipped a little bit because we saw the delight over the new items,” Knecht said.
HHC has been around so long that Knecht has plenty of success stories to share. Her favorite? “One time, I had an unsolicited call from a nonprofit in Coatesville. The woman said, ‘I’m not sure if you remember me, but I was a recipient [of HHC] and loved it so much that I volunteered for a year or two. Now I’m the director of this agency, and I would really love for my clients to enjoy this event.’ It was an incredible full-circle story about someone who needed help, came back to volunteer and is now in a leadership position, helping clients.”
  20 Chester County Chamber of Business & Industry

   20   21   22   23   24