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First fundraiser: Leechburg Library hopes to bridge spending gap with benefit luncheon, auction

| Sunday, May 11, 2014, 9:00 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Friend of the library Mary Beth Girardi and (right) Leechburg Public Library board member Connie DeFrances admire a football that was autographed by Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive coach and 2010 Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Charles Richard 'Dick' LeBeau on Wednesday, May 7, 2014. The autographed football is one of many items to be auctioned off during Leechburg Public Library's first official fundraiser.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
(far right) Library Board President Sue Gero and Leechburg Public Library librarian Sonya Heasley check out items to be auctioned off during Leechburg Public Library's first official fundraiser. Photographed on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

The Leechburg Public Library is hosting its first fundraiser in its 88-year history. The May 17 event promises to be memorable, with musical entertainment, prizes and a chance to see the latest offering of the Twisted Thistle restaurant.

The luncheon begins at 1 p.m. at the Twisted Thistle Garden Room. Situated across the street from the main restaurant at the former VFW building at 128 Market St., the Twisted Thistle's newest venue promises to offer an intimate setting — perfect for the library's springtime luncheon.

The fundraiser will include raffles and silent auction items from 2:15 to 4:30 p.m. The library is welcoming anyone to participate in the fundraiser between those times.

The raffles and auctions will offer an array of goodies from more than 70 area businesses. In addition to items such books and antiques, gift certificates for belly-dancing classes and salons might be tucked into gift baskets.

“It's going to be very interesting how we showcase some of the items,” says Mary Beth Girardi, one of the event organizers and part of the Friends of the Library group. She stressed that the outpouring of support from local businesses has been incredible.

The fundraiser will prove a benefit for all involved, she says. “It can be good for everyone — the library, the winners and donors,” she says. “It provides everybody that's part of the event with something, and that's a good thing. It really is.”

As the light spring luncheon winds down, local musicians will share their talent, including vocalist Kimberly Bartoe and musicians Patti Marco, Sharlotte DeVere and Mark Dalrymple.

A photo booth will be available, so guests can have fun taking “selfies.”

The fundraiser is designed to support the library's general operating expenses, according to Sue Gero, president of the board of directors.

The library, she says, receives no state funding but Leechburg borough provides it with an allocation each year. That money covers about half of a librarian's salary.

“Events like this literally enable us to keep the library's doors open,” Gero says.

“Although our annual used-book sale and smaller-scale fundraisers help bring in some of the money we need, a project on a larger, grander scale has become necessary if we are to attempt to bridge the spending gap.”

The library, in recent years, has increased its programming. While the classes take a bit of a hiatus in the summer, the library plans to offer the same programs that have been popular with patrons in recent years, according to new librarian Sonya Heasley. Among those are computer classes and those led by Penn State Master Gardeners.

And, if it proves to be a success, will the library, after nearly nine decades without one, also continue with a large-scale fundraiser in coming years?

If that's the case, Heasley says, “we'll be happy to oblige.”

Julie E. Martin is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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