About Us

Our History and Mission

Leonians helping Leonians – that’s the mission of the Leonia Community Chest – a mission that has remained relevant since 1944. 


The organizations supported by the Community Chest have changed and the method of fundraising has changed, but the Community Chest continues to assist the young, hungry, emotionally or physically ill and the financially needy. This despite the fact that many once prevalent Community Chests no longer exist, subsumed by the larger United Way.  

Founded nationwide in 1913, business leaders saw the Community Chest as an efficient way to distribute funds while allowing them to demonstrate interest in their communities.  A "red feather" was established as the national symbol.  


In Leonia, the kickoff of "Lights On Night", as the campaign was called, was initiated with a parade, in early October down Broad Avenue, from the Middle School to the center of town.  It rivaled the town's annual Memorial Day parade.  Those in the front carried a banner and all wore the red feather in their collar.  That night many Community Chest volunteers rang doorbells to ask for financial contributions from their neighbors.  Over time, "Lights On Night" became "Lights On Week", with volunteers ringing doorbells over a longer period of time.  For the past 10 years, the Community Chest switched to a mail campaign, still conducted in early October, as our population became more mobile and more people worked.  


What hasn't changed are the real needs served by the Community Chest.  Services provided to Leonians include: (1) emergency food and financial assistance for rent and utility bills, (2) counseling, psychological and addiction services, (3)support for children and teen activities that teach skills and build character and (4) providing a home and transitional resources for women and children who have suffered domestic violence.


A volunteer board, listed below, decides what agencies receive funds and directs fundraising efforts.  


We are a 501(c)(3). Donations are tax deductible.  

Board of Trustees

Sunyoung An

Nike Bach (President)

Diane Berson

David Braun

Karen K. Elder (Secretary)

Ruth Elsinger

Patti Kennelly

Sally Ko

Ginger Komar

Rose Ann Magaldi

Wendy Orlansky

Sally Seymour

Susan Shanno (Vice President)

Bob Seyffarth

Norm Smith (Treasurer)

Richard Stenken

Sharon Wynne