Bob's Garage not just about the decorations
Bob Paganico spends about $2,200 a year to transform his Blawnox eatery into a spectacle of lights and ornaments for the Spirit of Christmas, a nonprofit that raises $50,000 yearly to donate gifts to children in need.
Bob's Garage Lounge on Freeport Road has become known for its elaborate Christmas decorations — lights, garland and ornaments to attract customers and their charitable donations throughout December.
“You'd be surprised at how many grandparents and mothers and dads say, ‘This is all they have,' ” Paganico said of the gifts his team distributes on Christmas Eve.
Paganico hosts 50/50 raffles, prize giveaways and celebrity guest bartenders at the lounge during the fundraising drive. This year's bartenders include Craig Patrick, former Penguins general manager, and Bill Hillgrove, play-by-play announcer for the Steelers and University of Pittsburgh.
“We get a lot of tourists this time of year,” bartender Melissa McKown said. “Everybody is so pleasant, and they're always raving about the decorations.”
McKown, 27, of Sharpsburg said she enjoys helping with the decorations, which take two days to complete, and the fundraisers. She donates tips to the nonprofit during the fundraising events every Monday and Saturday through December.
“(At) night time, it's through the roof. I can barely see the windows. (There are) lines and lines of people.”
Paganico said with all the fundraising efforts combined, including the December events, golf outings and bake sales earlier in the year, the nonprofit raises about $50,000, money that helps almost 500 children and their families each Christmas.
“No one makes one penny,” he said. “One hundred percent of what's raised goes to the kids.”
Organizers get the names of children from community centers where parents signed up. They ask the parents what the children want.
Paganico and his team buys, wraps and delivers the gifts. They spend about $60 per child, and families receive a $50 gift certificate to Giant Eagle.
“This would not exist without my people,” he said.
Volunteer Patti Davies of O'Hara was just a regular customer at Bob's Garage until she began helping 20 years ago. Davies organizes the fundraising events and prepares the raffles and basket giveaways.
“I'm already worn out and we're only halfway through,” she said with a laugh.
Volunteer Heidi Corwin of New Kensington has helped for about five years. Corwin makes volunteering a family event with her son and daughter.
“It's a way of giving back,” she said. “It's nice for my kids to be involved.”
Paganico shares that sentiment. His kids participated in Spirit of Giving when they were young. Now his grandchildren help.
“It's a good teaching tool for them to see that they really don't have it that bad,” he said.
Emily Balser is a writer with the Point Park News Service.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- U.S. Steel Tower tenants stand to benefit from company’s relocation
- Suspect in Route 28 death has long history of ignoring vehicle registration, license laws, records show
- Lower gas prices entice motorists to drive long distances for Thanksgiving
- La Roche College to accept up to 90 credits from community college students
- Alcoa judgement helps U.S. Attorney’s Office collect 5 times its budget
- Brentwood police chief to get nearly $200K as part of settlement agreement with borough
- Coaches lead discussions to influence athletes’ attitudes toward women, avoiding violence
- U.S. Steel to relocate corporate headquarters on former Civic Arena site
- Allegheny County police investigate out-of-state company that hired worker charged in fatal accident
- Surgery for man shot by Pittsburgh officer on hold amid legal limbo
- State leaders give input on budget woes at Pittsburgh meeting