15 Brandywine Valley Nonprofits to Give to this Season
These organizations do incredible work year-round.
“Be positive” is more than just a mantra at this Delaware foundation, named for Andrew McDonough’s blood type. At age 14, McDonough lost his battle with leukemia. Today, friends and family rally to fight childhood cancers by raising funds for research, and work to get kids involved with dance marathons and other events. 101 Rockland Circle, Wilmington, Del., (302) 563-8389.
With three main preserves—the Laurels, Waterloo Mills and Penguin Court—the Brandywine Conservancy seeks to protect natural resources throughout the Brandywine-Christina watershed. Founded by beloved whip George “Frolic” Weymouth, today the conservancy works with landowners to protect their land, promote regional arts and culture through the Brandywine River Museum of Art, and host events throughout the year to further awareness and connect people to the great outdoors. 1 Hoffman’s Mill Road, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-2700.
With numerous locations throughout the Brandywine Valley—from West Chester, Pa., to Dover, Del.—the Brandywine Valley SPCA works to protect and place homeless animals. In 2019 alone, the organization has placed more than 9,000 animals and spayed or neutered more than 8,000. Various locations.
A childhood favorite where many area residents first forge relationships with animals and nature, the Brandywine Zoo is home to dozens of species from around the globe, including an African pygmy goat, a green tree python, Italian honeybees and a colorful wood duck. The zoo is also involved in conservation programs, including the Delaware Kestrel Partnership and Urban Wildlife Monitoring, which study and help protect species for years to come. 1001 N. Park Drive, Wilmington, Del., (302) 571-7747.
When his wife was diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma while pregnant with their second child, Paul Isenberg found great support among family and friends. Honoring her memory, Isenberg is the founder and CEO of this nonprofit, which has served more than 4,500 families who have a loved one battling cancer. Since 2008, the organization has raised $5.5 million, which goes directly to paying household bills. 541 Swedesford Road, Malvern, Pa., (484) 580-8395.
Despite being one of the wealthiest counties in the state, Chester County has no shortage of food-insecure individuals. To help combat that, the Chester County Food Bank collects and donates food to address this escalating problem. Since its founding in 2009, the food bank has worked to distribute 2.7 million pounds of food to those in need. It also offers educational programs and has a raised-bed garden program. 650 Pennsylvania Drive, Exton, Pa., (610) 873-6000.
Children ages 7 to 18 with special needs and learning differences are at the forefront of Children’s Beach House, which was founded by Lydia Chichester du Pont. The nonprofit offers traditional camp, where kids can swim, kayak, play sports or try their hands at arts and crafts while building relationships and self-confidence. The organization also provides case management. Look for fundraisers throughout the year, including Plein Air Brandywine Valley. 1800 Bay Ave., Lewes, Del., (302) 645-9184; 100 W. 10th St., Wilmington, Del., (302) 655-4288.
DHA ensures animals find a safe and loving home where they can thrive. Founded in 1957, the no-kill shelter offers spay and neutering services, a pet food pantry and a vaccination clinic in addition to its shelter. There, it nurtures and trains animals so they’re ready for adoption. 701 A St., Wilmington, Del., (302) 571-0111; 18675 Coastal Highway, Rehoboth Beach, Del., (302) 200-7159.
Funny shows, perennial favorites and lesser-known plays are among the many productions this nonprofit theater puts on for the community each year. Founded in 1978, DTC has kept art at the forefront of the First State and also offers courses, from acting classes to playwriting, and an outreach program for at-risk youth. The six-week residency program is now in its fourth season. Since its inception, DTC has produced 220 main stage productions seen by more than a million theatergoers. This year’s season includes A Christmas Carol (Dec. 4–29), Outside Mullingar (Feb. 12–March 1) and Million Dollar Quartet (April 15–May 10). 200 Water St., Wilmington, Del., (302) 594-1104.
Established in 1976, the Domestic Abuse Project of Delaware County serves all 49 municipalities, providing support services, including counseling, a safe house and legal advice, for victims of domestic abuse. 14 W. 2nd St., Media, Pa., (610) 565-6272.
Based in Exton, Pennsylvania, this nonprofit serves women and children facing homelessness in Chester County. Each year, the organization helps support 500 individuals through various programming, including supportive and shared housing, eviction prevention and pre-senior living so that like its namesake, women and children can soar again. 969 Swedesford Road, Exton, Pa., (610) 647-4940.
Urban sprawl threatens open spaces where wildlife and native flora thrive. To combat those effects, this conservancy, which began in the 1970s, works to preserve open space, historic sites and natural resources to ensure they’re around for generations to come. Residents and visitors can take to the many trails across their preserves in Chester County or partake in a number of events, including the Wild and Scenic Film Festival. 541 Chandler Mill Road, Avondale, Pa., (610) 347-0347.
A coat is essential in the cold months, but many children go without. An estimated 16 million children in the U.S. live in poverty. To ensure kids don’t go coatless—and to help build their self-esteem by having something new and all their own—Chadds Ford’s Operation Warm manufacturers its own line, which it distributes to children in need throughout the country. It also works to connect children to other services like libraries and service clubs. 6 Dickinson Drive, Chadds Ford, Pa., (610) 388-2500.
Studies have found that certain animal therapies can aid in mobility, balance, strength and self-esteem. Each week, Thorncroft offers therapeutic horseback riding to 350 adults and children with emotional or mental struggles and physical disabilities, some through scholarships. It is one of the oldest such institutions in the country and more than 150 volunteers help make it a success. 190 Line Road, Malvern, Pa., (610) 644-1963.
For women going through a rough patch, finding attire appropriate for work or job interviews can be financially difficult. Wings for Success prepares women with clothing and skills to help get them back on their feet. Since its inception in 1997, the organization has outfitted nearly 12,000 women. 490 Lancaster Ave., Frazer, Pa.; 345 Scarlett Road, Kennett Square, Pa., (610) 644-6323.