By: KDKA-TV News Staff

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Following Cyber Monday, today is Giving Tuesday.

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Giving Tuesday was launched in New York in 2012, and quickly spread across the country, sparking the donations of hundreds of millions of dollars to various groups around the country, and right here in Pittsburgh.

It’s an important day for charities and non-profits every year, but it’s extra special this year as Pittsburghers head toward a second holiday season amid the COVID pandemic.

Locally, Give Big Pittsburgh is the central hub for anyone interested in donating online.

The site has links to hundreds of area organizations accepting donations.

One such organization is 412 Food Rescue, which focuses on preventing food waste and providing healthy food to those most in need of it.

Co-founder and CEO Leah Lizarondo said her non-profit is just as dedicated this year as it was last year when many quarantined Americans struggled through an unprecedented pandemic.

“In 2021, the need continues and while the crisis is not at its height, we want people to know that we are in for the long haul, especially as new variants make life so unstable for many,” Lizarondo told KDKA.com on Monday. “Every donation will go to serving those who are most in need.”

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Lizarondo said anyone can download the 412 Food Rescue app and sign up to assist in a food rescue, most of which last between 30 and 60 minutes.

Doug Smith, the director of development at Light of Life Rescue Mission, said that while financial donations are always appreciated, so is volunteerism.

“If you can give a dollar, it makes a difference,” he said. “If you can serve for an hour, it makes a difference.”

Light of Life assists men, women and families experiencing homelessness, poverty or addiction. The group received a match pledge from “generous donors,” Smith said, of $104,000. The organization hopes to raise at least $104,000 in donations on Giving Tuesday, which would bring its fundraising total to $208,000 for the day.

Last week, Light of Life provided 1,750 boxed Thanksgiving dinners for families in need, and served another 1,300 hot meals on Thanksgiving Day.

“The people we serve need education, employment and hope, and those are what Light of Life provides,” Smith said.

KidsVoice is a non-profit organization that helps 3,000 abused and neglected children across Allegheny County every year. The funs raised on Tuesday will continue their important work, especially at a time where COVID-19 has had an impact on the children.

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Giving Tuesday is also a day Animal Friends looks forward to each year. The donations will be used to support the life-saving work it does all year long.