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Cranberry business owners helping fund Kids Castle Project one burrito at a time

| Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013, 9:03 p.m.
Cranberry Journal
John Iaquinta, co-owner of Moe's Southwest Grill in Cranberry Township, makes a burrito for a customer. For each burrito sold in the month of February, Moe's donated $1 to the Kids Castle project, the new Cranberry Township children’s playground. When the month ended, 6,494 burritos were sold. Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Cranberry Township
Through the month of February, Mike Geiger and John Iaquinta, co-owners of Moe’s Southwest Grill in Cranberry, invited customers to enjoy one of their many burritos. For each one sold, the men donated $1 to the Kids Castle project, the new Cranberry Township children’s playground. While they had set their goal at $5,000, when the month ended, 6,494 burritos were sold. Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Cranberry Township
Burritos at Moe's Southwest Grill in Cranberry Township will help raise money for the new play park in Cranberry as $1 for every one sold goes to the cause. Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal
Cranberry Journal
Through the month of February, Mike Geiger and John Iaquinta, co-owners of Moe’s Southwest Grill in Cranberry, invited customers to enjoy one of their many burritos. For each one sold, the men donated $1 to the Kids Castle project, the new Cranberry Township children’s playground. While they had set their goal at $5,000, when the month ended, 6,494 burritos were sold. Louis Raggiunti | Cranberry Journal

There's no telling if February will be a good month for selling burritos, but Mike Geiger and John Iaquinta, co-owners of Moe's Southwest Grill in Cranberry, are eager to find out.

Throughout the month of February, the duo will contribute $1 to the Kids Castle Project for every burrito sold at their Cranberry business. Geiger hopes to be able to give $5,000 to the project that will create a new playground, replacing the old Playtime Palace in the township.

They also intend to coordinate a Volunteer Day in late summer with their employees contributing volunteer labor and donating lunch to those working that day.

The effort will emphasize local fundraising for the Cranberry Uniting Playground, or CUP, which has been deemed the Community Project of the Year by the Cranberry Township Communty Chest.

“We had been talking about (finding a project) for three to four weeks,” said Geiger, 36, of Mars. He and Iaquinta, 34, of Cranberry, always found some sort of cause during the holidays that they could support.

Nothing surfaced last year, but when the men heard about Kids Castle in January, they jumped right in.

“Mom and dad and a couple of kids, that demographic is our customer base,” Geiger said.

“A couple of things lined up and made us want to help.”

With two children each themselves, playgrounds are familiar settings to them.

“Moe's stepped up in a huge way with their recent support,” said Bruce Mazzoni, chairman of the township's board of supervisors and treasurer of the Cranberry Township Community Chest.

Rather than beginning with straight fundraising, Mazzoni explained, they recruited neighborhood and business ambassadors to raise awareness of the project. Along with a donation of $3,000, The Streets of Cranberry will place two large signs on its property to focus on the playground and do other promotional activities during the year.

“PNC Bank made a five-year commitment to the project and will donate $5,000, and Cannon USA donated $1,250,” Mazzoni said.

In addition, Cranberry CUP or the Cranberry Uniting Playground group has pledged $175,000 and the community chest $50,000.

But for such a large project, estimated to cost more than $500,000, manpower also is needed.

Westinghouse Electric Co. will provide 50 to 100 employees to help take down the old playground and Grace Community Church will supply some volunteers. Yet, the township still needs to find 400 to 600 residents who will construct the community-build portion of the playground, do the fencing, some landscaping and the final cleanup.

“You can see why we started with ambassadors first because the project is too big for a handful of people to accomplish,” said Mazzoni.

“This is the biggest community project in Cranberry's history both in size and dollars.”

But little hands also can help to create the playground area. Students from Rowan and Haines elementary schools and St. Kilian's are sending in drawings of what they want the community-build portion of the space to look like.

Students from some other local elementary schools also may send in their drawings.

Each design will be reviewed, and every child acknowledged with a “Playground Designer Membership Card.” When that play area is completed in late June, the “designers” will be the first to enjoy the new area.

Geiger and Iaquinto are ready to wrap as many burritos as they can from behind the counter of Moe's at 1686 Rt. 228, Cranberry Township.

“In seven years, we've opened six restaurants, built two houses and had four kids,” said Geiger.

“You just need to pay attention to the customers, focus on quality and cleanliness and take care of those around us.”

Dona S. Dreeland is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6353 or ddreeland@tribweb.com.

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