Charity & Grassroots in Lackawanna

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Shadows dart across the wall, a strange voice emerges from thin air, and you get the eerie feeling that you’re being followed. This is no ordinary place. The Iron Island Museum's paranormal history has captured the minds of countless visitors and has been featured on TV programs such as Ghost Lab and Ghost Hunters. Originally built as a church in 1883, the house later became a funeral home in the late 1950s, during which time it hosted more than 1,000 wakes. The business eventually shut down, and in 2000, the building was donated to The Iron Island Preservation Society of Lovejoy, which made a startling discovery: 24 canisters of cremated remains had been left behind.

Today, an all-volunteer staff leads tours of the church's vaulted ceilings, stained-glass windows, and themed rooms. The church showcases hundreds of historic relics, including military uniforms, railroad items, and a wooden altar that dates backs to 1896. However, the museum's biggest draws can't be seen, at least not most of the time. Guides and visitors stay alert for signs of paranormal activity and look for chances to communicate with what they consider to be some of the building's resident ghosts. The staff has even taken recordings that play back the voices of unknown figures saying things such as "I'm cold," and "Why don't they make pants for ghosts?"

998 E Lovejoy St
Buffalo,
NY
US

• For $17, you get a one-year individual membership (a $35 value). • For $25, you get a one-year household membership (a $50 value).

341 Delaware Ave
Buffalo,
NY
US

Each year, the SPCA Serving Erie County gives more than 15,000 dogs, cats, and exotic pets a new lease on life. Founded in 1867—making it the second-oldest humane society in the country—the SPCA’s compassionate animal rescue, rehabilitation, foster care, and adoption services have earned Charity Navigator’s four-star rating for extraordinary accountability and transparency, the highest rating available in all three categories. In the adoption center, furry faces peer from comfortable, clean cages as staff and volunteers evaluate customers’ needs and introduce them to compatible pets, decreasing the chance of conflict when adopters' favorite shows compete with Animal Planet specials. Before becoming eligible for adoption, pets undergo thorough health, temperament, and behavioral evaluations, and those who need extra TLC receive additional obedience training.

In addition to matching people with loving pets, SPCA Serving Erie County’s staff investigates more than 200 animal-cruelty complaints per month, and provides emergency animal-rescue services 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Rescued animals receive state-of-the-art medical care in the facility’s onsite surgical suite, and rehabilitation programs prepare them to thrive in loving homes. A local, independent humane society, the donation-supported SPCA Serving Erie County is not associated with the ASPCA and receives no government funding.

205 Ensminger Rd
Tonawanda,
NY
US

Louis Tussaud's Waxworks entices curious families and individual seekers with rooms brimming with waxified legends, people, and achievements. Today's Groupon grants admission for two guests into Waxworks' sprawling English Tudor–style building, which houses 16 theme galleries, filled with glossy tableaus of more than 100 true-to-life wax figures crafted by international artists. Past and present celebrities—including film and music stars, politicians, religious figures, and famous heroes and villains—pause from high-stakes staring contests for photo opportunities with passing patrons. Sit on Oprah's couch, snuggle into bed with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, or play host to an unblinking audience of invisible fish.

5709 Victoria Ave
Niagara Falls,
ON
CA

If a time traveler hopped from The Rapid Theatre in 1921 to the same spot in modern times, they would think their time machine was broken. Lovingly restored to its early 20th century luster, the former movie house dazzles visitors with columned walls, a sculpted ceiling, and a brick tapestry facade. All that has changed is what goes on inside. These days, the venue—which accommodates up to 1,700 entertainment enthusiasts or 3,400 stacked children in trench coats—fills its stage with major music acts. The handicap-accessible facility also slakes sing-along induced thirst with two fully stocked bars.

1711 Main St
Niagara Falls,
NY
US

Situated snugly on the beauteous bayshore forest of Lake Chautauqua, Camp Onyahsa boasts a rich, 113-year history of bolstering passions for outdoor adventures, dramatic creativity, and nature-nurturing in kids and young teens. Campers can embrace their inner tree-hugger or plant-handshaker with informative hikes through the verdant woodlands before channeling their naturalistic inspirations into creative writing and drawing classes. Camp Onyahsa takes full advantage of its shoreline, allowing young aqua-lovers to pursue swimming, sailing, tubing, and fishing activities, with rigorous water safety training provided by the experienced staff.

5411 East Lake Road
Dewittville,
NY
US