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McKeesport students, community collect food for the city's Salvation Army pantry

| Saturday, Nov. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
In the Founders Hall Annex gymnasium, from left, are teacher Bethany Sadler, Kiwanis president Linda Brewster, sixth-grader Tristan Pattakos, sixth-grader Nadia Smith, principal Stacie Fitzpatrick and teacher Valerie Schoy. Tristan's and Nadia's names were drawn in a bicycle raffle for students who donated to a Salvation Army food drive.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Annie Washowich, left, of the McKeesport Lions Club, joins principal Tia Wanzo in congratulating Twin Rivers Primary School second-graders Jason Markotan and Emma Scoville for winning a bicycle prize drawing for participating in a food collection for the Salvation Army of McKeesport. Bicycles will be purcased for the students in coming weeks.
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
Bobbie Billsborrow, left, of the McKeesport Lions Club, joins teacher Autum Grata and principal Paul Sweda in congratulating Twin Rivers Intermediate School third-graders David Begandy and Maria Ford for winning a bicycle prize drawing for participating in a food collection for the Salvation Army of McKeesport. Bicycles will be purcased for the students in coming weeks.

The Salvation Army of McKeesport is thankful for McKeesport Area students and community volunteers who collected more than 4,000 nonperishable food items to fill its pantry as the holiday season approaches.

Representatives of the McKeesport Lions Club, McKeesport Trail Commission and Kiwanis Club of McKeesport/White Oak traveled between Twin Rivers Primary (in the former Centennial building), Twin Rivers Intermediate (in the former George Washington building) and Founders Hall Annex (in the former White Oak building) collecting canned goods and recognizing students for a job well done.

“This is a wonderful thing,” Major Sean Barton said. “Food is needed in our community, and this is going to go a long way. We are all very appreciative of the children's generosity.”

With 4,247 items collected in total, sixth-graders in the Founders Hall Annex were proud to have collected 2,003 on their own.

“They did an outstanding job,” sixth-grade teachers Valerie Schoy and Nadia Smith said. “For this being one grade level, bringing in more than 2,000 cans is outstanding. Yesterday, we had 1,200. The rest came in this morning.”

Linda Brewster, who serves with the Lions, Kiwanis and trail organizations, said she was happy to see students take an enthusiastic approach to volunteerism.

“These kids participated, and were excited about it,” Brewster said. “They know this community needs their help.”

With several local groups working to boost the Salvation Army's mission, Brewster said it feels like a community of “one helping all” who are in need.

Twin Rivers Primary principal Tia Wanzo said bringing students into that mission helps them learn to value community service.

“It teaches them at a young age to do good within the community and to help others who are less fortunate,” Wanzo said.

In each building, volunteers recognized the homeroom class that collected the most food. They will receive a pizza party, including drinks and dessert, courtesy of Broadway Pizza & Subs.

They recognized one male and one female participant whose names were pulled in a drawing for prize bicycles. The bikes will be purchased later to accommodate the winners' height and color preferences.

At Twin Rivers Primary, the winning homeroom was Paulina Batis' kindergarten class. Bikes will go to second-graders Jason Markotan and Emma Scoville.

At Twin Rivers Intermediate, the winning homeroom was Natalie Hartley's third-grade class. Bikes will go to third-graders David Begandy and Maria Ford.

At Founders Hall Annex, the winning homeroom was Angela Elm's sixth-grade class. Bikes will go to sixth-graders Tristan Pattakos and Nadia Smith.

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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