YARDLEY BOROUGH >> At a time when fundraising is practically nonexistent due to COVID-19, the Yardley Harvest Day Committee delivered a much needed financial boost to seven community nonprofits on Saturday.
With the Yardley Farmers Market as its backdrop, Harvest Day Committee members Rich Wayne and David Appelbaum handed out donations to the Friends of Lake Afton, Experience Yardley, the Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit, the Yardley Historical Association, the Yardley Farmers Market, the Pennsbury Scholarship Foundation and the Friends of the Mary Yardley Footbridge.
The money was raised during Harvest Day 2019, the town’s annual fall festival and street fair held in September and featuring vendor booths, food, live entertainment, boating on Lake Afton, nonprofit organizations and lots more.
Unfortunately, this year’s event, which had been scheduled for September 19, had to be canceled because of the pandemic.
Wayne presented the first check for $1,500 to Friends of Lake Afton President Michelle Sharer, Vice President Nick Primola, Sandi Brady and Marsha Child.
The Friends of Lake Afton is a civic non-profit organization whose mission is to restore, improve, protect and maintain Lake Afton and the public areas surrounding the lake for everyone to enjoy.
“Thank you to the Harvest Day Committee for this donation. It’s a wonderful feeling knowing the community supports what we’re doing,” said Sharer.
“Donations like this make a huge difference, but all amounts, whether it’s just $5 or $10, it all adds up. And if everyone can do a little bit we can keep the lake alive and well and getting better and better,” said Child.
Primola said it’s been a phenomenal year for public use of the lake. “We’ve never had more visitors than this year. It’s been amazing to see. Everyone is using the lake. It’s great,” he said.
Unfortunately, the Friends have not been able to capitalize on it with any kind of public fundraising events.
It’s biggest fundraiser of the year - Harvest Day boat rentals on Lake Afton - has been canceled due to the pandemic.
“As soon as we can, in a socially distance way, we’re going to slowly bring activity back to the lake,” said Primola. “We’re having a volunteer day coming up just to get people back involved.”
The fall cleanup day is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 17 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Wear masks, work clothes, bring gardening tools and be prepared to get dirty while enhancing the jewel of Yardley Borough.
“We’re just looking to get creative with what we do in the springtime. Hopefully things will be opening back up by then,” said Primola.
The committee presented its second check for $1,000 to the Yardley Farmer’s Market, which is held Saturday mornings in Buttonwood Park throughout the summer and into late fall.
Volunteer managers Sue Schneck and Don Canepa were on hand to accept the donation, which will offset the cost of organizing and promoting the market.
“This will just keep in the black,” said Canepa, noting that the pandemic had taken its toll on the market this year. “We’ve had no lofty goals or big promotions this year. This is keep your head above water, which is more important.”
With no assurances of indoor space for this winter, market organizers have extended the fall season to Saturday, November 21.
Despite everything, Schneck said this summer the market has been doing very well. “Our attendance is up. People have really come out to support these farmers and vendors,” she said.
The third donation went to Experience Yardley, a nonprofit organization that promotes and markets Yardley Borough through events like Music on Main, Second Saturday, Restaurant Week and Canal-O-Ween.
On hand to accept the donation on behalf of Experience Yardley were treasure David Appelbaum from IT Service Architechs and Secretary Liz Young from Commonplace Reader.
“This comes at a great time for us because the pandemic has decreased the amount of funding and opportunities for raising money,” said Appelbaum.
This summer, in lieu of its numerous events, Experience Yardley has focused its energies on the addition of a mural in downtown Yardley, which it hopes will become a source of pride for the town and bring in more visitors. A dedication is scheduled for October 17.
“It was clear we needed to do something and this was the best thing we could do once COVID-19 hit,” said Young. “The mural has been our physical project since we can’t do any gathering events.”
The donation will be put toward upcoming projects, said Appelbaum.
The next donation went to the Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit, which has been serving the community since 1955. The YMEU is located on Edgewood Road next to the Lower Makefield Township Building.
“We are proud to present $1,000 to the Yardley-Makefield Emergency Unit, which serves the community 24/7, seven days a week, 365 days a year,” said Wayne.
The money, said Deputy Chief Maria Ferrara, will be put toward the general operation of the rescue squad which services Yardley, Lower Makefield and neighboring areas.
“We always appreciate anything the community gives back to us. And it’s always a pleasure to know that they are thinking about us,” said Ferrara. “It’s also a little bit of a surprise, too, because we’re just doing our job. And when people reach out to us and want to donate to us it makes us feel like we’re doing the job worthwhile. It’s just beautiful to think that people think of us and want to give back.”
The next donation went to the Pennsbury Scholarship Foundation, which has been awarding scholarships for 64 years. This year the foundation gave out $160,000 to 88 students.
“Every dollar we raise goes directly into our scholarships,” said Mary Lou Bradley, the foundation’s President. “This donation represents one more scholarship that we can give. I’d like to thank the committee. We really appreciate all the help that we get to achieve our mission, which is to help kids. And they need it these days with the price of college.”
The next donation for $2,000 went to the Yardley Historical Association, which was founded in 1964 to archive and maintain the town’s history. They are the caretakers of the Old Library by Lake Afton, which was built in 1878 and houses a collection of primary and secondary materials, photographs, deeds, letters and more.
According to Carol Such, the president of the YHA, the donation will be put toward the ongoing maintenance of the Old Library and its collection. One of their next projects will be to replace the outside wooden steps on the west side of the building facing the church parking lot.
“This comes at the right time,” said Such. “It’s been a very difficult year. We’ve lost rentals and we haven’t been able to hold our programs this year. We really thank the committee for its generosity. I think it’s wonderful. It would be harder for us to make it from year to year without their support. They’ve been very good to us.”
The final donation for $1,500 went to the Friends of the Delaware Canal and the future replacement of the Mary Yardley Footbridge, which links Rivermawr with North Main Street.
Susan Taylor, the executive Director of the Friends of the Delaware Canal, was on hand to accept the donation on behalf of the Friends of the Mary Yardley Footbridge.
The Friends of the Delaware Canal is serving as an umbrella organization to accept private, tax-deductible donations toward the bridge replacement project.
The bridge, located just north of the Afton Avenue bridge, was originally built to provide access from the newly developed Rivermawr neighborhood to the trolly stop on North Main. Today it serves as a pedestrian link over the canal and as an evacuation route during flood emergencies.
“We’re very grateful to the Harvest Day Committee for this contribution, which gives a significant boost to the Mary Yardley Footbridge Replacement Fund,” said Taylor, adding that additional contributions are being sought from the community.
“In order to get a match from a private donor, we still need another $20,000,” said Taylor.
Donations can be made online at fdoc.org/yardley-footbridge or they can be sent to the Friends of the Delaware Canal, 145 South Main Street, New Hope 18938 (c/o the Mary Yardley Footbridge).
“This is a community effort in conjunction with Yardley Borough, which owns the bridge, the Friends of the Delaware Canal, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, which oversees and maintains the Delaware Canal State Park, and the community,” said Taylor.
“It’s a pretty unique project,” said Wayne, a member of the community and former member of council. “It’s on private property. It’s on state land. And the bridge is borough property.”
Mark your calendar for next year’s Harvest Day, which is scheduled to take place on Saturday, September 18 on Canal Street, East College Avenue, Bell Avenue and at FitzGerald Field.