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West Penn's West Side team helps food bank

| Saturday, June 22, 2013, 12:51 a.m.
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Chip Rowan (front), executive director of Connellsville Area Community Ministries, receives a check from James Hershberger, who had the highest percentage of weight loss on the Connellsville team. Others (from left) are Erica Warner, Tim Shoemaker, Lisa Schifano, Cheryl Snyder, Janet Wagner, Barb Crowe and Kim Wagner. Vince Grabosky and Dave Hoone are also members of the team.

Several local employees were winners in a recent exercise and weight-loss competition hosted by FirstEnergy. The Connellsville West Side team placed third out of 114 teams.

FirstEnergy pledged $1 for every pound lost company-wide to Harvest for Hunger, resulting in a total donation of $7,200. The top three teams won the opportunity to designate the food banks that would benefit. The Connellsville team was excited to support the community where they work by donating its share of $2,400 to the food bank at Connellsville Area Community Ministries.

“CACM appreciates the $2,400 donation toward our food pantry ministry,” said Chip Rowan, CACM executive director. “We are grateful to the employees at the Connellsville West Side West Penn Power facility for selecting us to receive this generous donation. The food pantry provides food to 350 households each month. This donation will help to continue this ministry to the many needy families.”

FirstEnergy is committed to community, officials noted. Harvest For Hunger is one of the company's charitable involvements.

“One of FirstEnergy's primary recipients for community goodwill and charitable enterprise is Harvest For Hunger. FirstEnergy employees throughout the company, which West Penn Power is a part of, gave the equivalent of more than 2.6 million meals during the 2013 Harvest For Hunger campaign, which comes out to about $356 million and 69 tons of food to local food banks and hunger centers,” said Todd Meyers, West Penn Power spokesman.

He added that FirstEnergy has been involved with Harvest For Hunger since 2001, and “over those dozen years, employees have contributed over $3.1 million in cash and more than one million pounds of food to help fight hunger.”

“We know it's hard times, and it has been hard times in West Penn Power service areas and all across the whole footprint of FirstEnergy,” he said. “The employees here like to do things that help the communities that then helps their friends and neighbors. They do all kinds of innovative contests. I've seen tricycle races, bake sales and basket raffles, with all the proceeds going to Harvest For Hunger. It's all about trying to have a little bit of fun while raising money and awareness.

“FirstEnergy/West Penn Power is also very committed to the United Way,” he continued. “The agencies that are served by the United Way are right in there, in the communities, helping in many ways.”

The FirstEnergy Foundation is solely funded by the parent company, FirstEnergy. Since 2001, FirstEnergy Foundation reportedly has awarded nearly $40 million in grants to more than 3,000 community-based organizations. Those grants go to not-for-profits and tax-exempt health and human service agencies, educational organizations, cultural arts programs and civic groups.

The FirstEnergy Corp. website (www.firstenergycorp.com) informs groups how they might be able to benefit and how to ask for one of these grants.

“FirstEnergy/West Penn Power wants to help make communities where they operate strong. If the community thrives, the business thrives as well,” Meyers said.

Nancy Henry is a freelance writer.

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