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Women's Board Fox Chapel fundraiser to benefit project to feed children

Tawnya Panizzi
| Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, 9:00 p.m.
Fredrica Cryan and Janice Barrington, auction chairs for The Women's Board of Pittsburgh fundraiser to benefit Project SEED (Something to Eat Everyday), display auction items including a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey.
Fredrica Cryan and Janice Barrington, auction chairs for The Women's Board of Pittsburgh fundraiser to benefit Project SEED (Something to Eat Everyday), display auction items including a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey.

Retired teachers Joanne Cecchi and Ruth Carson started Project SEED in 2014 to provide meals for local children.

Project SEED provides 221 students each weekend with nutritious meals. Bags have enough food for weekend meals, and are a way to supplement the free lunch program that many students receive through school, Cecchi said.

“We want them to come to school ready to learn, not ready to eat,” said Cecchi, who taught 32 years in the New Kensington-Arnold School District alongside Carson, who served 42 years.

Their group will get a boost from The Women's Board of Pittsburgh, which chose Project SEED as the beneficiary of its annual fundraiser luncheon, scheduled for 10 a.m. Jan. 29 at the Fox Chapel Golf Club.

Themed “Plant the SEED of Hope,” the event will feature a cooking demonstration by Executive Chef Kevin Watson of Savoy Restaurant, raffles, a silent auction and an informal fashion show by Carabella of Oakmont.

“Each year, the Women's Board chooses a worthwhile organization that does not have the means nor the time to raise funds on their own, to be the recipient of all the proceeds from the luncheon,” said Lynn Thompson, an O'Hara resident and board member since 2008.

Thompson said each of the 50 board members helps the fundraiser succeed. They design invitations and programs, decorate the club and solicit gifts for raffles and auctions.

Founded in 1991, the Women's Board operates with the mission of advocating for children. Proceeds from the luncheon always benefit a group that serves children with physical or emotional needs. In past years, money has helped Operation Backpack, Beverly's Birthdays and Saltworks Theatre Company.

The one-day event usually generates about $40,000.

“To say that it's a Godsend is an understatement,” Cecchi said. “It's the biggest donation we've received to date and it's enough to sustain our program for another entire year.”

Project SEED aims to help children throughout the Alle-Kiski Valley. In New Ken-Arnold, where both Cecchi and Carson taught, more than 70 percent of students receive free or reduced price lunches, compared to the state average of 32 percent.

Laura Dawson, of Fox Chapel, a board member since 2011, said listening to Cecchi and Carson speak about the children persuaded the selection committee.

“Guests at the luncheon will know that this is a cause they will want to help,” Dawson said, adding that Project SEED is volunteer-operated, with no administrative or overhead costs.

Tawnya Panizzi is a tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-782-2121, ext. 2 or tpanizzi@tribweb.com.

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