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Wexford Elementary read-a-thon helps raise money for food bank

| Wednesday, Nov. 13, 2013, 9:01 p.m.
Officer Mark Wolfe of the Northern Regional Police Department answers questions from Rachel Zimmerman’s kindergarten class at Wexford Elementary on Wednesday, Nov. 6.
Officer Mark Wolfe reads “David Goes to School” to Rachel Zimmerman’s kindergarten class as part of Dad’s Day to Read. Wolfe’s son Mark Christian is a third grade student at Wexford Elementary.
KDKA chief meteorologist Jeff Verszyla reads “Captain Buckleboots on the Naughty Step” to Amy Snyder’s first grade class at Wexford Elementary School. Verszyla’s son Alexander is in Snyder’s class.

Students at Wexford Elementary School are reading books in order to feed others through the Ram Reader Read-a-Thon, which kicked off at the beginning of November.

From Nov. 1 through Nov. 15, students raised money for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank's KD Turkey Fund by having people sponsor their time spent reading.

The children were supposed to read at least 15 minutes every day.

Last year, students raised $10,252.90 for the KD Turkey Fund, which was matched dollar for dollar by PNC Bank, said Read-a-Thon co-chairwoman Lisa Pipeling. That's the most the school has raised, and the goal was to top that number this year.

The read-a-thon has been going on since 2005 at the school, event co-chairwoman Tiffany Meyer said. Since then, the school has raised more than $110,000 for the KD Turkey Fund, with the matching funds from PNC.

“Supporting the food bank's efforts to provide meals to families gives the students a goal that they can understand,” Pipeling said.

“Even the youngest students can imagine what it might be like to not be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner. Sometimes, I think it's hard for kids to be active participants in philanthropy, but I think this program provides them a way to really make a difference.”

The read-a-thon kicked off with an assembly featuring Rick Dayton from KDKA-TV, Channel 2; PNC's Jim Balouris; guest reader and tae kwon do master Robert Zang; and representatives from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Ivy Ero, the food bank's hunger-education coordinator, said at the kickoff assembly that Wexford Elementary is the top school in terms of fundraising for the KD Turkey Fund.

“Nobody does this like you,” she said to the students. “You're doing a wonderful thing to help other children.”

“Over the years, the boys and girls of Wexford have helped approximately 3,700 families over the holidays,” Principal Rick Walsh said at the assembly.

Throughout the two-week read-a-thon, there were special events to motivate the children to read.

On Nov. 6, it was Dad's Day to Read at Wexford Elementary. Local fathers and celebrity fathers came into classrooms to read their favorite children's books to students.

KDKA-TV's Jeff Verszyla read “Captain Buckleboots on the Naughty Step” by Mark Sperring to Amy Snyder's first-grade class, where his son, Alexander, is a student. Verszyla said his son helped him pick out the books he would read during the day.

Other celebrity parents included Theodora Polamalu, Pittsburgh Steeler Troy Polamalu's wife; KDKA-TV's Dayton, local police officer Mark Wolfe and Wexford fire Chief Tim Flaherty.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or

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