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Propel McKeesport, church join to make birthdays happy

Michael DiVittorio
| Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2013, 5:21 a.m.
After-school program coordinator for Propel McKeesport, Amy Burrows, third from left, joins Tyrreck Lee Wright, Darylshawn Jones, Jaqunn Moore, David Arnold and Da'Quaja Cousar as they put items into birthday bags that will be distributed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
After-school program coordinator for Propel McKeesport, Amy Burrows, third from left, joins Tyrreck Lee Wright, Darylshawn Jones, Jaqunn Moore, David Arnold and Da'Quaja Cousar as they put items into birthday bags that will be distributed by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Nancy Stone, Helaine Phillips, Judy Bisig, Kay Kovacevic and Rosemary Anderson load boxes of birthday bags that will be given to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.
Cindy Shegan Keeley | Daily News
Nancy Stone, Helaine Phillips, Judy Bisig, Kay Kovacevic and Rosemary Anderson load boxes of birthday bags that will be given to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Propel McKeesport students and Corpus Christi parishioners have joined to make birthdays happier for folks in need.

They assembled about 150 “birthday bags” for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank on Tuesday evening, using donations they had collected.

Propel McKeesport after-school site coordinator Amy Burrows called it a tremendous partnership that is a learning opportunity.

“I was amazed by how many items our families, staff and parishioners brought in, more than what I estimated,” Burrows said. “It's fantastic.”

The project was open to the charter school's 420 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. Seventy-five students in the after-school program decorated posters, counted and sorted donations, and colored and assembled the bags.

Burrows said 700 items were collected in two weeks last month.

The parish provided about 50 bags.

They contain typical birthday items such as cake mixes, frosting, candles, table cloths and napkins, and other party items.

“One weekend we put boxes in church, and everybody that came to Mass contributed,” said Nancy Stone, vice president of the parish's Christian Mothers/Rosary Society. “We just try to be good neighbors.”

A food bank official will pick up the bags this month. They will be distributed to local pantries for families in need.

“I was able to help other people and I like to draw,” eighth-grader David Arnold said. “I started to draw the poster to get people to donate stuff. It's important that we're able to do more than go to school. We're able to help others who live around the McKeesport and Clairton areas.”

“I usually help people in need,” eighth-grader Da'Quaja Cousar said. “I want to give back to the community because if I didn't have things, I would like them to (help) me.

“I think it touches people's hearts when somebody helps them.”

“I feel thankful and I feel hopeful that the families who get this birthday stuff will be satisfied,” seventh-grader Tyrreck Wright said.

Burrows said the idea for the bags came from a Penn State alumni event at the food bank last year.

“I always wanted to do this as a service project, and as part of the after-school program, we do community service,” she said.

“I thought it was a very novel idea because (birthdays) are something that should be celebrated,” Stone said.

Second-graders won a school contest for most donated items, with 83.

Michael DiVittorio is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-664-9161, ext. 1965, or mdivittorio@tribweb.com.

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