What Organization Is Your 2017 Wawa Hero?

UPDATE: Operation Yellow Ribbon took home the $50,000 grant with the other three organizations getting $10,000 grants.

You submitted those you thought should win a Wawa Foundation Hero award this year and we'll soon know who earned the most votes.

People shared heroic stories about the work being done by Philadelphia-area non-profits and that elevated four organizations to finalists.

The winning organization gets a $50,000 grant and the three runner-ups each receive $10,000.

Take a look at the finalists' inspirational stories and read more about their organizations here (in alphabetical order):

Emily's Entourage

Faced with a rare form of Cystic Fibrosis, Emily Kramer-Golinkoff has committed her life to fast-tracking research and drug development for nonsense mutations of Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Emily’s Entourage has raised over $2.5 million dollars since 2011 to fund groundbreaking research and lead the worldwide charge for a cure. Her foundation’s growth and success is a testament to the power and passion of the communities, most specifically the greater Philadelphia region, which has rallied behind its quest. Emily’s Entourage is anchored in Philadelphia and now includes supporters and volunteers from around the globe who are working to accelerate the development of cutting-edge treatments to save the lives of Emily and others like her. They are inspiring and harnessing the power of communities to give others hope for the future. Find out more here.

Operation Yellow Ribbon 

The South Jersey organization is dedicated to supporting United States Military Forces serving in the Middle East by sending donated supplies to troops overseas, as well as promoting, coordinating and facilitating welcoming home events for local veterans. Over the past two years, the organization has shipped more than 100,000 pounds of care package goodies to deployed U.S. military members, including snacks and hygiene products many Americans take for granted back at home. For many troops deployed across the globe, having access to basic necessities like shaving cream, tooth brushes and deodorant is a luxury. Since its founding, Operation Yellow Ribbon of South Jersey has been connecting the amazing men and women of our U.S. military with a piece of home and a warm welcome upon their return. Find out more at here.

Lighthouse, Inc.

Since its founding in 1893 as a settlement house, the Lighthouse has been providing educational, recreational and economic improvement programs to families and individuals across North Philadelphia communities. From starting the first Meals on Wheels program in the nation to address the issue of senior hunger in the community to providing fun, educational after-school programming for more than 100 young students each year, the Lighthouse offers a wide array of services designed to help improve quality of life and guide young people to become contributing members of society. But in the many less-than-ideal neighborhoods that stretch across North Philadelphia and beyond, ensuring every child receives the attention and educational programming they need can be a challenge. The Lighthouse is constantly working to find new ways to stretch their offering to help chart a different course of direction for those who come from the most difficult backgrounds. Find out more here.

West Philadelphia Alliance for Children

The vast majority of Philadelphia public schools lack a functioning library, and nearly 40% of our students will drop out before graduating. Knowing the link between reading progress and dropout rates, the West Philadelphia Alliance for Children (WePAC) promotes childhood literacy by engaging volunteers in Philadelphia public schools through re-opening and staffing libraries and offering academic mentoring to students in need. With its many dedicated volunteers and small staff, WePAC supports nearly 5,000 students each week by conducting read-alouds and helping children choose books that will engage them and keep them coming back for more. Through motivation and positive encouragement to learn and read, WePAC is helping to put students on the path to greater opportunity and prosperity. Find out more here.

Voting opened June 15 and ended June 29. CLICK HERE TO VOTE.

The winner is announced on July 4 during the Wawa Welcome America! festivities.

“All of us at Wawa were truly inspired to hear about the work that so many area non-profits are doing to help others and improve their communities,” said The Wawa Foundation President Jared Culotta.

“We can’t wait to celebrate these four non-profits during the Wawa Welcome America! festivities as they tell their stories of what it means to be a hero. We invite all who applied to stay connected with The Wawa Foundation to find out more about the support The Wawa Foundation offers to non-profit organizations in Wawa’s operating area.”

[Photos]Mary J. Blige to Headline Wawa Welcome America Festival on July 4th

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