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Fundraiser nets nearly $9K toward Richland land purchase

| Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, 9:02 p.m.

Fighting blight with candlelight, Orchard Park Neighborhood Association recently raised $8,900 to help Allegheny Land Trust buy the abandoned former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property on Bakerstown Road in Richland.

The nonprofit group hopes to acquire the site's 180 acres for recreation.

The neighborhood group sold 434 hand-packed, luminaria kits — priced $10 for eight candles and $20 for 20 candles — to contribute nearly $9,000 toward the property's $1.4 million purchase price.

“Not bad for not knowing what we were doing,” said organizer Annette Robinson, president of the Orchard Park Neighborhood Association.

Robinson and other volunteers bought candles and bags, and then packed the luminaria kits, with funds from four local sponsors: Schellhaas Funeral Home, Pasquinelli Erie Insurance, Krebs Chrysler Jeep Dodge and the Bakerstown Feed and Garden Center.

“We only went over our sponsored $1,600 material costs by $10.34,” Robinson said.

Volunteers sold the luminaria kits — and collected cash donations — at various sites on multiple dates in November and December. People also placed online orders for luminaria kits.

Sale sites included Wal-Mart, Shop ‘n Save, Weischedel's Florist and Bakerstown Garden & Feed Center, all in Richland, and the Shenot Farm Market in Marshall.

Residents of the Treesdale housing plan in Pine and Adams, the Orchard Park housing plan in Richland and the Willow Run housing plan in Hampton collectively bought nearly $4,000 in luminaria kits.

Luminaria kit sales at a handful of local churches raised $910 of the total funds collected for Allegheny Land Trust.

People bought luminaria kits through St. Richard Catholic Church, Trinity Lutheran Church, the Christian Community Church and Bakerstown United Methodist Church, all in Richland, and St. John's Lutheran Church in Ross.

People also bought $480 in luminaria kits at the Richland Municipal Building on Dickey Road.

Robinson plans to return all the candles in unsold kits.

“We sold 434 of the projected 500 luminaria kits we set out to sell,” Robinson said.

“Nothing is being wasted. Cases of candles not used are being returned, and the refunded money is being used to cover primarily printing costs incurred.”

Such civic involvement in a land acquisition project reportedly can yield even greater financial support from foundations and government agencies for Allegheny Land Trust's efforts to buy the former Pittsburgh Cut Flower Co. property from its current owners, Legacy Landings LLC.

“I swoon over the enthusiasm this community has exhibited for this project,” said Roy Kraynyk, land protection director for Allegheny Land Trust. “Funders reward communities who are putting a ‘nickel in the game.'”

Deborah Deasy is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6369 or ddeasy@tribweb.com.

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