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Fox Chapel Rotary helps connect students to Internet

| Wednesday, March 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

The Fox Chapel Rotary, in conjunction with Volunteers of America, is leveling the playing field for some Fox Chapel Area students, providing them with Internet access for the coming year.

The groups' combined effort with Comcast, “Local Students without Computers Project,” will provide computers and Internet to 25 families who need it.

The move is just the first step to ensure that every high school student in the district has access to the resources needed to succeed, said Hannah Ufnar, manager of Volunteer of America's All of Us Care program, a long-running Sharpsburg group aimed at anti-drug and safety programs for children.

“In today's world, access to technology is vital to a student's academic and personal growth,” Ufnar said.

To qualify, families must have a student enrolled in the district who is receiving a free or reduced lunch through the National School Lunch Program, and, they must not already have Comcast Internet at home.

Families will be required to contribute $50 toward the cost of the computer.

Application sessions will be held in each of the district's six municipalities.

Families interested in applying for the computer and Internet should bring a letter to document their child's participation in the school lunch program, which is available through the high school.

The program is first-come, first-served.

Volunteers of America was founded in 1896.

It operates on the mission of reaching and uplifting people, especially the needy, disabled or underserved. Programs include those that help with education, housing and employment.

Each year, members donate about $10,000 to the Fox Chapel Area School District communities by helping projects at the Cooper-Siegel Community Library, Boyd Community Center, Aspinwall Meals on Wheels, Camp Guyasuta and Beechwood Farms.

Members also take on a special project each year — past projects have been the construction of the new library and clean water drinking wells in Haiti.

This year, the club wanted to address the need to provide Internet throughout the district, said Pat Serey, Rotary board member and chief development and marketing officer of Volunteers of America.

“Access to technology is vital for the whole family, connecting them to financial, educational and healthcare resources, which benefits the community overall,” Serey said.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or at tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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