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Mon Valley Salvation Army finalizes plans for annual fundraiser

| Monday, Aug. 26, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Three organizations and two individuals will be honored by the Mon Valley Citadel of the Salvation Army at its fifth annual “Doing the Most Good Dinner,” which will be conducted Oct. 15 at the Monessen Elks Lodge.

The honorees are:

• The Charleroi Little Great Race, which has been raising money for local causes for 26 years.

• The Westmoreland County Food Bank, a private, nonprofit organization that provides food to hungry people through a network of food assistance programs, including several operated by the local Salvation Army citadel.

• The Peters Creek Baptist Church of Bethel Park, which during the past year added the local Salvation Army unit to its list of mission projects.

• Jeffrey D. Imbrescia, president and chief executive officer of the Douglas Education Center in Monessen.

• Matthew Shorraw, a California University of Pennsylvania student who has volunteered his time and musical talent to help a variety of community organizations and activities.

Charleroi's Little Great Race, first staged on Sept. 24, 1987, was originally created as a prelude to the Pittsburgh Great Race. The race now serves as a fundraiser. This year's race will is set for Sept. 7.

The Delmont-based Westmoreland County Food Bank, which serves more than 7,000 disadvantaged families throughout the county each month, has partnered with the local Salvation Army unit to help three of its programs.

They include a food pantry that serves more than 130 needy families on the second Friday of each month, a program that provides meat and other items to local SA feeding initiatives and a summer youth program that provided nearly 1,500 meals to area children.

In May, Peters Creek Baptist Church collected cleaning supplies, craft materials and hygiene products that the local SA unit distributed to the community or used for its various youth programs.

In addition, more than 20 young members of the congregation, under the guidance of Pastor Davis Barr, helped provide leadership for the local SA day camp from June 18 to 24.

Imbrescia assumed control of the former Douglas Business College in 1989, when it offered degree programs in specialized business, business administration and executive secretary, and its graduates were hired primarily by businesses in and around the Mid-Mon Valley.

In 1999, DEC added art programs to its curricula and launched a degree program in graphic and web design.

One year later, it introduced Tom Savini's special make-up effects program and in 2002 created an illustration and airbrush art program - currently named the Allan and Wilson's Digital Illustration Program.

DEC's Cosmetology Academy opened in 2003 and in 2008 Tom Savini's Digital Film Production Program (currently named The Factory Digital Filmmaking Program at Douglas) and Dorian's Fantasy Art Program were added.

The new programs have attracted students from throughout the U.S. and several foreign countries, and DEC graduates are now finding jobs nationwide

Shorraw, of Monessen has a strong love of music that he shares with the community through a variety of endeavors such as Monessen's Music in the Park.

The founder of the Raise Your Voice Campaign, which encourages musicians to visit Monessen City Park in the spring to share their music with the community, Shorraw is a member of several other community-based groups, including Monessen Communities That Care.

The dinner honoring them will help raise money for the local SA unit, which provides a litany of services and programs to an area that embraces Allenport, Belle Vernon, Charleroi, Donora, Dunlevy, Elco, Fayette City, Monessen, Pricedale, Roscoe, Stockdale and Webster.

In addition to its food pantry operation, the local Salvation Army citadel provides the following social services, according to Lt. Susan Thwaite and her husband, Lt. Joel Thwaite:

• Dollar Energy Fund offers qualified families grants up to $500 to help pay utility bills.

• Emergency Food Box provides food to qualified people in need who are not already signed up with a food pantry.

• Fire and disaster assistance provides money to needy families victimized by disaster.

• Utility assistance provides money, when available, to help qualified families and individuals pay utility bills.

• Back to school supplies and backpacks are provided to qualified local students each August.

• Project Bundle Up allows qualified parents to shop with their children for winter outer wear at K-Mart in Rostraver Township. Qualified senior citizens are also eligible to participate in this program.

• Treasures for Children provides holiday presents for local low-income children each December.

• Operation Santa Claus Christmas provides holiday meals for qualified residents of the citadel's service area.

The local SA organization also operates the following programs:

• Sunbeams/Girlguards - A free scouting program for girls in first through fifth grades. The program includes a family style meal each Tuesday night, homework help, devotions, crafts, guest speakers, field trips, toward completion of interest badges.

• Teen program – This free program for youths in sixth grade and up meets each Wednesday night to explore relationships with God, community service, vocational goals and improve self esteem. Participants have had opportunities to visit such places as a recording studio, Steelers training camp, live theater, history museum, and compete in bible bowl (trivia game). Participating teens recently created a prayer garden at the SA citadel in Monessen that is open to the public.

• Music lessons - Peggy Watson offers free music lessons and instruments for interested youths to use while taking lessons on Thursday evenings. This year, Peggy is accepting students for brass instruments and instruction.

• Day camp - This six-week summer program is available to youths entering kindergarten through the fourth grade. It consists of breakfast, lunch, educational speakers, crafts, swimming and swimming lessons at the Monessen Elks Lodge, sports, art, music and time at Monessen City Park. The camp costs $20 per week, but many qualified children attend on scholarships.

• Overnight camp – The organization sends youths each summer to Camp Allegheny for sports, music and other activities. Participating youths are required to have a physical and pay a portion of the $25 per camper fee.

• Men's dart ball team – Open to men and teens age 15 and older, the team competes at the local citadel at local participating churches.

• Women's group – Interested area women gather each Friday at noon for Bible study and group support.

• Community garden – Local gardeners are invited to help tend to the garden adjacent to the citadel building in Monessen.

At its heart, the Salvation Army is a religious organization. Its hosts several Sunday School programs, an 11 a.m. holiness meeting each Sunday and Bible study each Monday at 6 p.m.

The organization also becomes involved in sponsoring other programs and partnering with other local organizations as the need arises.

Tickets to the dinner can be obtained by calling the citadel at 724-684-4282.

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