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Women's Board of Pittsburgh raises $65K for charity at Fox Chapel event

Tawnya Panizzi
| Monday, March 7, 2016, 8:21 p.m.
Chair Laura Dawson, Fox Chapel Golf Club Chef Chris Brown and board president Sandy Woncheck take a break from the festivities at the Women's Board of Pittsburgh benefit to raise money for Project SEED in 2016.
Submitted
Chair Laura Dawson, Fox Chapel Golf Club Chef Chris Brown and board president Sandy Woncheck take a break from the festivities at the Women's Board of Pittsburgh benefit to raise money for Project SEED in 2016.
Joanne Cecchi of Project SEED, benefit chair Laura Dawson, Ruth Carson of Project SEED and beneficiary search committee chair Debbie Burke are excited about their work.
Submitted
Joanne Cecchi of Project SEED, benefit chair Laura Dawson, Ruth Carson of Project SEED and beneficiary search committee chair Debbie Burke are excited about their work.

With a record-breaking fundraiser, the Women's Board of Pittsburgh turned over $65,500 to plant the seeds of hope for needy children.

Its benefit Jan. 29 at the Fox Chapel Golf Club brought in money for Project SEED (Something to Eat Every Day), a New Kensington-based group that provides 221 students with nutritious meals each weekend to sustain them until Monday when they return to school.

“The women's board was absolutely astounded by the amount that we raised this year,” board president Sandy Woncheck said. “We are gratified to know that 100 percent of the proceeds will fund nutritious food for so many needy children. We feel like we not only planted a seed but started a whole garden.”

This is the largest total the women's board has brought in during its 25-year history, Woncheck said.

Project SEED aims to help children across the Alle-Kiski Valley. Founders Joanne Cecchi and Ruth Carson taught in the New Kensington-Arnold School District, where more than 70 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunches, compared to the state average of 32 percent.

The pair launched the program in 2014 with the intention of raising awareness of what they said is a local crisis.

“We're not talking about children in third-world countries,” Cecchi said. “We're talking about kids down the block.”

They fill bags each week with enough food for weekend meals in hopes that students return to class on Mondays “ready to learn, not ready to eat,” said Cecchi, who taught 32 years alongside Carson, who served 42 years.

She said she is relieved that the donation will be enough to sustain the program for another year.

About 50 Women's Board members worked on the luncheon, cooking demonstration, raffles, silent auction and fashion show from Carabella of Oakmont. Founded in 1991, the group has a mission of advocating for children. Proceeds from the luncheon always benefit a group that serves children with physical or emotional needs.

In years past, money has helped Operation Backpack, Beverly's Birthdays and Saltworks Theatre Company. The one-day event usually brings in about $40,000.

Tawnya Panizzi is a staff writer for the Tribune-Review.

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