Summer Harvest: Come Support 412 Food Rescue and Help Fight Hunger in Pittsburgh

summer harvest 1

On July 25th, The Livermore will be hosting Summer Harvest, an event that celebrates the spirit of entrepreneurship in Pittsburgh while raising money for an important social cause: fighting hunger in Allegheny County. All proceeds from this event will go to 412 Food Rescue, a non-profit started by Leah Lizarondo (The Brazen Kitchen) and Gisele Fetterman (The Free Store).

summer harvest 3
412 Food Rescue hopes to “rescue” every bit of food that stores can no longer use and convert them into meals for more than 175,000 “food insecure” people in Allegheny county, including over 43,000 children.

According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, this space is largely occupied by food banks that are unable to accept every donation in time to adequately provide for those in need. 412 Food Rescue’s approach quickly finds donors and brings the food directly to households in need, much like an “Uber for food-rescue.”

The co-founders of 412 Food Rescue: Gisele Fetterman (left) and Leah Lizarondo.

The co-founders of 412 Food Rescue: Gisele Fetterman (left) and Leah Lizarondo.

With the additional support of Jenny Liu, Geoff Misek, Nate Cochran, Jessie Schalles, and Shawn Rancatore, 412 Food Rescue won both the Jury Prize and the People’s Choice award at Steel City Codefest in February 2015. Currently they are actively recruiting volunteer drivers, app developers, and fundraisers to further their cause.

Summer Harvest will feature some great perks for its attendees:

Tickets are $20 ($25 after July 21st) to attend, and every cent of proceeds from this event will go directly to 412 Food Rescue. According to Lizarondo, for every ticket sold at Summer Harvest, 412 Food Rescue will be able to provide meals for a family of four for an entire week.

412 Food Rescue

Food rescued for many needy families. Photo courtesy of 412 Food Rescue.

Summer Harvest is supported largely in part by Startup Weekend Pittsburgh (@swpgh), a local group of community leaders who organize 54-hour events that teach entrepreneurship through competition. The next Startup Weekend will be a civic-themed competition on September 18-20 in Pittsburgh’s Allentown district.

Lee Ngo, Summer Harvest co-organizer and one of Startup Weekend Pittsburgh’s community leaders, says that Startup Weekend has been a core presence in Pittsburgh for over three years, cultivating a family of solutions-oriented collaborators in the community. He feels that it was time that they give something back to the city and make a real difference in the lives of Pittsburghers who struggle daily.

This is the first time that Startup Weekend Pittsburgh has ever donated to another cause in the city. Community leaders believe 412 Food Rescue is an obvious first choice, as it is introducing a substantial difference in the way our city engages intelligently with food in our community.

For more information or to purchase your tickets, go here:

Summer Harvest is also accepting sponsorships and donations for the event. Contact Lee Ngo for more information.

Celebrate space with Yuri’s Night Pittsburgh tomorrow!

Yuri's Night Pittsburgh

Space is pretty awesome. Blockbuster hits like Gravity and Interstellar, privatized space exploration such as Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, and incentives like Google’s Lunar XPRIZE, which awards $30 million to the first private company to send a robot to the moon, have renewed our interest beyond our atmosphere.

And Pittsburgh has great representation with local NewSpace company Astrobotic leading the race to the moon, having won initial milestones of the Lunar XPRIZE and currently accepting payloads to be sent to space on their first launch.

And lucky you– you can get in on some space-related fun tomorrow evening with Yuri’s Night! From 4-7pm (don’t worry, plenty of time before the Game of Thrones season premiere) the Livermore will be hosting Pittsburgh’s celebration of mankind’s achievements in space, named after Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin who was the first human to journey into outer space.

The event is totally free to attend, and there will be space-related drinks, stellar beats, complimentary snacks, and tons of space talk, videos, and fun. The event will also serve as the afterparty for the NASA International Space Apps Challenge, brought to Pittsburgh by, a local non-profit aiming to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education through charitable competitions using space exploration as inspiration.

What: Yuri’s Night Pittsburgh
When: Sunday, April 12, 2015 from 4-7pm
Where: The Livermore, 124 S Highland Ave
Cost: Free, including light appetizers

Emergency Toy Drive – How You Can Help


Update Sunday 12/21 8pm:

We still need your help.  This am we identified 500 more kids that need toys.

Here is how you can help:

Donations will also be accepted at Most Wanted Fine Art at the Waterfrontfrom 12-5 PM (They are opening just for this so disregard the website.)

Volunteers needed in Garfield 11-4 to help sort & distribute.

Drivers needed to be on-call during these hours. At least one trip from Waterfront to Garfield around 5 PM.

Donations Most Needed At This Point

– Toys & Gifts for Kids Ages 6-12, all types. We are very low and have to serve over 300 kids in this age range.
– Gift bags for our craft kits from Creative Reuse. We need 50 bags that are at least 8 x 11 and 50 smaller sized bags. We prefer gender neutral, non-denominational bags.
– 50 new tote bags for our homeless youth
– Hand warmers, gloves/hats/scarves, socks for 50 homeless youth
– Food for the Weds Holiday Party for homeless youth (see previous message)
– boxes and bags

The volunteers really appreciate the donations of coffee, sandwiches, cookies and more!

We have a Facebook group for people who want to help – check the Emergency Toy Drive Facebook Group for updates!


There have been several news articles about this – but here is what you need to know, for some reason there is a toy shortage and a number of local nonprofits do not have toys to distribute for Christmas.  I have joined with several other Pittsburghers to address this ASAP.

What we’re going to do… Collect toys and money and work with all of the organizations impacted to make sure that every need we can meet is met.

How you can help… 

1. Donate money

we’ve set up a Crowdrise page here.  All money raised on this page will be used to address the ugent need, I will provide updates here on this page as I get them.  Click here to donate online.

2. Donate toys – Toys can be donated at Most Wanted Fine Art

Please donate UNWRAPPED toys!  We need to sort and get the right items to the right places.  If we need help wrapping – we’ll put out a call for volunteers.

  • Most Wanted Fin Art Waterfront – Next to Panera
    • Friday Noon-9pm
    • Saturday Noon-9pm
    • Sunday Noon-6pm
  • Most Wanted Fine Art Penn Ave – 5015 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh 15224 — CALL First 412-508-6782
    • Saturday 11am-4pm


3. Spread the word – #PGHsavesXmas

Other ways to help…

  • If you are an organisation that is impacted by this toy shortage and need help – please email me ASAP  We have heard that 7 organizations are impacted by this shortage, we only know of 3.  We only want to make sure that kids that need toys are able to receive a toy.
  • If you want to help – join the Facebook Group Emergency Toy Drive
  • Offer to be a toy drop off spot – we’re still working on the logistics – but if you have a public space and would be willing to collect toys, please let us know.


Q: What happened, why is there a toy shortage.

A: We’re not sure.  We haven’t had a chance to get the whole story and the organizations that have been impacted are focused on an immediate solution.  We know that there have been a few reports in the news. We can sort this out after we address the immediate need.

Q: Who is working on this?

A: Thus far the following people have come together to work on a solution – we want to coordinate efforts to make sure we’re meeting the need everywhere.  Most Wanted Fine Art, Nina Sauer, Jason Sauer, Pittsburgh Bloggers, Jodi Hirsch, Sue Kerr, Jennifer England, Lindsay Patross

Q; Why is the crowdrise an individual page, rahter than to the non-profit.

A. Crowdrise cuts checks to nonprofits on the 15th of the month.  Given the urgent need – we set this up in a way we can collect moneies and disperse them ASAP.  Currently this is connected to my paypal account – I will provide a full accounting on funds here on IheartPGH for transparency.  If you would prefer to donate directly to a 501c3 organization – we understand and are working on posting a list of those organizations.  If you are a 501c3 Organization and can help us with this – please contact me – we would prefer that all donations go directly to an organization.

Emergency Toy Drive Updates

Friday 12/19 – 4:30pm

WOW!  Yinz are amazing.  Toy donations are rolling in, in the past 5 hours – we’ve raised over $3400 and counting.  Here are the stats thus far:

  • 8 – # of non-profits that need toys
  • 1470 – kids that we believe we need toys from these 8 non-profits
  • 77 – # of people that have donated money to our Crowdrise page
  • 18 – # of people that have joined the Emergency Toy Drive Organizers Facebook group.

We will be meeting tonight at 6pm to take inventory and get organized for shopping and delivering.  Will post an update with needs later today.

THANK YOU for all of your support!

Friday/Saturday 12/20 – 1:00am – $5642 Raised!

It is really late, but I just got home and wanted to post a quick update about today and what will happen on Saturday.

First of all THANK YOU to everyone who has donated money, toys, tweets and support.  The response has been incredible – $5642 dollars donated in a little over 12 hours!!!

The organizing team met this evening at 6pm to map out a strategy.  We are working to make sure we are in contact with the organizations that were counting on donations from Toys for Tots.

One of the organizations has a toy distribution on Saturday afternoon.  We wanted to be prepared, so Jennifer and Lindsay headed out to pick up gifts for teens.  Everyone that we talked with – every employee at Old Navy and even the security guards were helpful.  We had to stop shopping because the car was full.

We’ve got a huge job to do and we are going to need your help.

Can you help us coordinate efforts with others? We really want to make sure we get the toys to the organizations that need the most help.  Lots of people are responding to the news – if you know of of a group that has received donations or needs donations – please let us know.

Here is what we need help with on Saturday:

  • More Gift Donations
    • We are looking for new gifts only
    • Please do not wrap any of the gifts
    • Gifts for Teens – we are most concerned about having gifts for older kids (ages 10-16) – if you would like to donate a gift, please consider something for an older kid
    • Bring donations to Most Wanted Fine Art at 5015 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15224
  • Sorting the donations – come to Most Wanted Fine Art and help us sort items by age group
  • Drivers/Shoppers – we think we are going to need to do a lot more shopping. This will go faster if we can have some more folks with cars come along.
  • Tag removal – almost everything we bought today has price tags, we could use help getting those off.
  • Larger staging area – Most Wanted Fine Art has been so incredible to step up and lend their space, but depending on how much we have donated and how much we can get out on Saturday – we may need more space.  If you know of a secure space that we can use for a few days, let me know.
  • Delivery volunteers – not totally sure what the need for this on Saturday will look like – but when we are ready to deliver the toys to the organizations we are going to need some help.

If you would like to volunteer or want more updates – join the Facebook Group.

 Sunday 12/21 10am – Toys and Snacks Needed

We’re making a list, and checking it twice! So much goodness.

Things we need today:

  • Here is what we need:
    • Gifts for older kids – books, craft kits, ear buds, scarfs, hats,
    • snacks, juice boxes, etc.  – several groups were canceling holiday celebrations, so we’re working to make sure they have party food
  • Donations can be delivered to
    • Most Wanted Fine Art Penn Ave
    • Most Wanted Fine Art Waterfront – next to Panera
    • East Hills Residence Council Community Center – 2291 Wilner Drive in Penn Hills – I will be there Noon-4pm
  • Volunteers are welcome to help at Most Wanted Fine Art or East Hills Community Center
    • We will have the Steeler game on at Most Wanted Fine Art

Check out the article in the Post-Gazette about the response!  We were also featured on WTAE last night. Have not found the clip online yet.

If you would like to volunteer or want more updates – join the Facebook Group.

Help A Pittsburgh Nonprofit – Support The CHS Holiday Gift Project

Dear Pittsburghers,

CHS-holiday-gift-projectOne of the BEST parts about being a blogger in Pittsburgh (aside from the occasional retweets from Rick Sebak and Edgar Snyder) is being part of an amazing community of bloggers and blog readers.

The readers of this blog, and many other blogs and websites have raised awareness and money for so many amazing Pittsburgh projects.

A few years ago, another blogger asked me to help Community Human Services, a local nonprofit raise a little bit of money to be able to provide holiday gifts for some of the people that they serve each year.  Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to learn more about Community Human Services and how important this Holiday Gift Project is to the people they serve.

Last year it was a but of a struggle to reach our goal of raising $5000 for CHS.  So this year, we’re starting a little bit earlier and asking for your help.  Scroll down for lots more information about Community Human Services and the 2014 Holiday Gift Project.

The best way to help is to make a donation of $10 (or more!) to the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project on Crowdrise.

I wanted to share with you just one of the reasons that I am supporting CHS this holiday season.  Over the past four years, I have had the opportunity to meet the staff at CHS and learn more about  the many programs and services that they provide for the Pittsburgh community.  Two years ago, I was standing at the Holiday Gift Project party at Houghs talking with one of the women who works for CHS.  She was thanking me over and over for helping them to raise a little extra money.  I asked her what she does for CHS and her story, really cemented for me why this organization is important to our community.  She works with homeless teenagers who have left the foster care system.  Once you turn 18, if you are in the foster care system in Allegheny County, you are able to sign yourself out of the system.  Many of the kids leave the foster care system and end up homeless.  The staff at CHS, does what ever they can to find these kids, and work with them to find stable housing.  These kids, like many of other Pittsburghers that CHS works with in the community are often overlooked during the holiday season.  Many of the people who CHS works with – fall outside some of the other gift projects, which most often provide gifts for young children and the elderly.

It is my goal to once again DOUBLE the number of people who support the CHS holiday gift project.

  • 2012 – 34 people donated via the Crowdrise page
  • 2013 – 74 people donated via the Crowdrise page
  • 2014 – ??? people donate via the Crowdrise page

I hope that you will take a moment to learn more about CHS, make a small contribution to the cause and invite your friends to do the same.

Thank you in advance for reading IheartPGH and your support of this one little campaign to make the holidays a little bit brighter for some other Pittsburghers.


What is CHS?

CHS is short for Community Human Services, a nonprofit organization that was started in South Oakland in the 1970s and has been serving Pittsburgh and Allegheny county ever since.  You can learn more about the history of CHS here.  (Detailed nonprofit information about CHS is available on Guidestar here.)

What does CHS do?

CHS has several program areas that serve Pittsbughers…

Other ways you can help with the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project

  1. Donate online – The BEST way to help is to make a donation on the CHS Holiday Gift Project Crowdirse page.
  2. Invite your friends to donate – Crowdrise makes it easy for you to form a fundriasing team and invite your friends to give $10 as well.  Visit this page and click the gray “Join The Team” button to get your own fundraising link for the CHS Holiday Gift Project.
  3. Clean our your closet for a good cause – click here to learn more about how you can join the CHS ThredUp group and turn your unwanted clothes into cash.
  4. Join us for the 2014 CHS Holiday Gift Project party on Thursday, December 11, 2014 at Hough’s in Greenfield.  Click here to RSVP on the Facebook event page.

What is Crowdrise?

Crowdrise is a website that lets anyone create a fundraising page for a registered nonprofit organization.  All funds raised on the Crowdrise page go to CHS.  The Crowdrise platform sends the money directly to the nonprofit.  IheartPGH does not touch the money or earn any funds from the Crowdrise page.

 CHS Holiday Gift Project Update

Fundraising Websites – Crowdrise

A Good Reason to Clean Out Your Closet Before Christmas

For the past few years, I have been part of a group of Pittsburgh bloggers who have helped the Pittsburgh nonprofit Community Human Services aka CHS raise money for their holiday gift project.  One of the things that I have learned about CHS is that they provide many important services to Pittsburghers who don’t fit into other social service programs.  The same holds true for the holiday gifts.  The money raised from the CHS Holiday Gift Project goes to CHS to provide a little holiday gift to the people who likely don’t fit into other holiday gift programs which are usually for kids or seniors.


This year, we’re getting a little bit of a head start with a new idea for fundraising with ThredUp.  ThredUp is an online store that sells new and used women and kids clothing.  ThredUp will buy your extra clothes, as long as they are in good condition, and will donate the money to CHS.  I have sent several ThredUp cleanout bags back to ThredUp over the past year, and I have ordered from the ThredUp shop many times.  So I thought it was time to try the ThredUp fundraising program.

If you have some extra clothes that you were thinking of donating, please order a free ThredUp clean out bag and donate to the CHS holiday gift project.  Order your free clean out bag today.  The whole process takes a few week – so the sooner you order a free cleanout bag, the sooner we can raise some $$$ for CHS.   (Any funds that come in after the holidays will also go to CHS).

How to Clean Out Your Closet and Support the CHS Holiday Gift Project

Photo of a ThredUp clean out bag from Broke and Beautiful's blog

Photo of a ThredUp clean out bag from Broke and Beautiful’s blog

  1. Visit the CHS Holiday Gift Project Group on ThredUp HERE.
  2. Enter your email address, name and password and click “Join This Group”
  3. Click the yellow “Order a Bag Button” – for the items that ThredUp doesn’t want – you can choose to have them donated to Goodwill or sent back to you for a small fee.
  4. Wait a few days… ThredUp will mail you a bag with a prepaid shipping label attached
  5. Clean out your closet and fill up the bag
  6. Send your your bag back to ThredUp – postage is already paid on the label
  7. ThredUp will make an offer for the items that they want and donate that amount to CHS

More Ways to Shop and Support CHS

If you are interested in other websites w online shopping on ThredUp or a similar site Twice.  Use the following links, for each person who signs up – I get a $10 credit.  I will be donating all of the referral credits from both ThredUp and Twice to CHS.

CHS Holiday Gift Project By The Numbers

  • Total Amount we need to raise in 2014 – $5000
  • Amount I hope we can raise from ThredUp – $1000
  • Number of Pittsburghers who I hope will send a bag to ThredUp – 50
  • Date of CHS Holiday Gift Project Party at Houghs – Thursday, December 11 (more details to come)

I will be blogging and Tweeting updates about the project between now and whenever we finish raising the $5000 – please help me spread the word by tweeting with #CHxmaS.