Mon Valley groups get together at special storytime celebration

| Thursday, April 11, 2013, 3:51 a.m.

In celebration of the Week of the Young Child, children from across the Mon Valley gathered in McKeesport for an afternoon of storytime activities.

Spring Around Story Time took place on Wednesday at the Jacob Woll Pavilion in Renziehausen Park as a collaboration of local family and child care agencies with the Mon River Fleet Lions Club. The free event was a regional focus of the 42nd annual Week of the Young Child, designated by the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

“This is what I like to see,” event co-chair Laura Bosnak Thompson, site director of the Allegheny Intermediate Unit McKeesport Family Center, said of the near 100 children who registered for Wednesday's event. “It's important for families to know about the free activities they can participate in. This is something that families from all of the Mon River Fleet communities can enjoy.”

The Mon River Fleet is a network of health and human service agencies that serve McKeesport, Duquesne, Clairton, Braddock and the Mon Valley as a whole. The Mon River Fleet Lions Club was born from that partnership, and proceeds from the organization's Sweetheart Brunch helped to fund Spring Around Story Time.

“Look at what a community can do,” co-chair Monica Hancharik, site director of the McKeesport First Steps Parenting Program, said. “All of these agencies collaborated for the Week of the Young Child.”

Spring Around Story Time brought together the following agencies to host stations with children's activities:

• Carnegie Library of McKeesport, making bookmarks.

• McKeesport Family Center, planting seeds.

• Allegheny County Department of Human Services, hot dog lunch with apple slices, a cookie and milk or water.

• McKeesport First Steps Parenting Program, dancing.

• McKeesport Head Start, making personalized crafts.

• Duquesne Family Center and Project Elect, making crafts.

Once children completed their stations, they received free age-appropriate reading books, coloring books, crayons and community resource information (intended for parents and guardians).

The program was well-received by children, parents and grandparents.

Rebecca Craighead of McKeesport was happy to bring her two children.

“It's really nice to have things to do in the community,” she said. “It's safe, structured fun, and that's what kids need.”

Taylor Dawson, 7, of White Oak was excited to try every station.

“There are lots of activities and different stuff to do,” she said. “I liked the planting best. We got to pick the vegetable we wanted to grow.”

Taylor's 5-year-old sister Quinn Dawson also enjoyed the planting activity, but thought the best part was decorating their planting cups with stickers.

Malina Boord, 8, of White Oak said the afternoon was all about variety.

“We got to do different things,” she said. “We read so many stories and did an activity for each one.”

McKeesport Mayor Michael Cherepko said the city was happy to open the Jacob Woll Pavilion to such an educational event for young children in the region.

“It's really nice to have the opportunity to host this event in the city of McKeesport,” Cherepko said. “It's nice to see organizations in McKeesport and surrounding communities collaborate on something that benefits children from all over the Mon Valley.”

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1956, or

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