Ella Korb and Annabelle Gaston, both fifth-grade students at Neil Armstrong Middle School, raised $500 for the benefit of Bethel Park Public Library.
On Nov. 25, they presented a check to library director Christine McIntosh and Andy Amrhein, library board president.
Annabelle and Ella took it upon themselves to raise funds for the library by selling Jenny Lee swirl bread in six Bethel Park neighborhoods: Georgetown South, Saddle Brook Farms, Surrey Farms, Ruthfred Acres, Brookfield Manor and Timberidge Apartments.
The girls are avid readers and have been loyal patrons of Bethel Park Library for many years. They enjoy the books, the programs – “Escape Room rocks!” they said – and all of the staff members.
“Ella’s and Annabelle’s fundraising efforts have helped the Bethel Park Public Library continue to provide free services and classes for youth,” McIntosh said.
The library currently is offering virtual classes and storytimes, along with Take-and-Make kits for youth, plus curbside pickup of books and other materials for all patrons during limited operating hours.
The girls’ donation came on the heels of a difficult year for all libraries in Allegheny County. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bethel Park library, like all contractual assets, experienced reductions in revenue from the Allegheny Regional Asset District.
The stay-at-home order issued by Gov. Tom Wolf in March kept Allegheny County residents from making many purchases. As the ARAD funding is based on sales tax revenue, cuts followed. Allegheny County restored the lost funds to all assets through a Federal CARES grant in August.
Libraries in Allegheny County also receive a portion of table gaming funds from The Rivers Casino. With the casino closed for most of the spring, the Bethel Park Public Library did not realize the income as projected.
In September, Allegheny County libraries mounted a campaign called “Love Your Library” as an opportunity for all the libraries to work together to raise awareness of and promote giving to libraries. The campaign, in its fifth year, is a partnership between the Allegheny County Library Association, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Jack Buncher Foundation, which provided $200,000 to be used as a match for donations received by all county libraries during the month of September. Bethel Park Public Library raised $50,211.10 during the campaign.