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Fundraiser kicks off for Connellsville Canteen Cafe

| Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, 8:13 p.m.
Daniel Cocks, manager of ArtWorks Connellsville, displays the multi-hued dog tags that are now on sale at the local gallery to benefit Fayette County Cultural Trust’s Connellsville Canteen Cafe project. The tags come in five different colors, based on donation amount — starting with silver ones for $25 up to emerald green ones for $500. The canteen will be housed in Connellsville’s model railroad museum which is under construction, thanks to local philanthropist Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger. For more information, visit Laura Szepesi | For the Daily Courier

Since the Civil War, dog tags have identified people who believe in giving of themselves.

Fayette County Cultural Trust hopes to capitalize on that same sentiment with its latest fundraiser to benefit its Connellsville Canteen Cafe.

The group is selling inscribed dog tags to raise cash for the canteen, a coffee shop that will be located in the city's model railroad museum now under construction. The tags can be purchased at ArtWorks, which is on West Crawford Avenue across from Lions Square.

The dog tags identify donors as supporters of the project. They are available in five colors based on donation amount: $25, silver; $50, gold; $75, red; $100, black; $500, green. Donors receive two military-style tags on beaded chains. The items are packed in protective sleeves.

The military theme honors the 800 women volunteers who met every troop train at the B & O Railroad station in Connellsville from 1944 to 1946 during World War II. The women offered sandwiches, goodies and hot coffee to more than 500,000 soldiers and sailors who were on their way to the war or coming home from it.

“This is our largest project to date. We sure hope local people will give to the cause,” said Mike Edwards, president of Fayette County Cultural Trust.

He credited the dog tag idea to Trust board member Daniel Cocks, who served in the military prior to moving to Connellsville 10 years ago. Cocks manages ArtWorks, which displays art and books from local artists and authors and also hosts many art-related workshops to the public year round.

The Connellsville Canteen Cafe will be housed in the building which will feature a 25-foot by 50-foot model railroad display that was painstakingly created over 70 years by the late Harry Clark of Normalville.

Local contractor Terry “Tuffy” Shallenberger purchased the display and donated it, along with the building, as a philanthropic gesture to his hometown. Construction is now underway along Crawford Avenue next to ArtWorks.

Laura Szepesi is a freelance writer.

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