January 6, 2009 |

Brashear holiday drive helps brighten season for families in spite of challenges

The Brashear Association responded to increased community needs during the holiday season with a team effort that gathered resources from the entire South Pittsburgh community and the region. According to Brashear's executive director, Hugh Brannan, this year's drive was particularly challenging.

"We haven't seen the levels of service we are currently facing since the mills closed. Unfortunately, some of the emergency resources that were available then are not available now. So, once again, we turned to the community and, once again, we met with a wonderful outpouring of kindness and generosity," Mr. Brannan stated.

Brashear's Holiday Assistance Program provides toys and food resources to families from the following South Pittsburgh neighborhoods: Allentown, Arlington, Arlington Heights, Beltzhoover, Bon Air, Carrick, Knoxville, Mt. Oliver, and South Side. Families must demonstrate economic need, residence in the service area, and the composition of the household. Families receive food assistance at Thanksgiving; toys and food help are distributed at Christmas.

Many donors contributed food or food gift certificates. Among these donors were: Arlington Academy; Arlington Civic Council; Borics; Duquesne University Greek Life, Office of Volunteers, and Spiritan Ministry; Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community; Inviodata, Incorporated; Massage Therapy at Kukurin Chiropractic; OASIS; Phillips Elementary School; Rainy Days Salon; South Side Local Development Company; Specialized Consulting, Incorporated; and WYEP-FM. Brashear also benefited greatly from the KDKA-TV Turkey Vouchers, distributed through the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank.

Dora Walmsley, one of Brashear's family case managers, coordinated the holiday effort.

"We really could not handle such a large undertaking without the kind donations of so many businesses, groups, and individuals and the energetic help of many, many volunteers," Ms. Walmsley said. "Our volunteers came from City Charter High School; Duquesne University; The Ellis School; Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community; and Strong Women, Strong Girls as well as neighbors, friends, and family members."

Hundreds of children received toys and other gifts through Brashear. The primary contributors of gifts included: Akoustica, Incorporated; Arlington Civic Council; Brashear Board of Directors; Curves; Duquesne University, Hilltop Health Ministries; Hill Top United Methodist Church; Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community; OASIS; Operation Warm; and Pittsburgh Opera.

Gifts were also provided by: Pittsburgh Action Against Rape (PAAR); The South Pittsburgh Reporter; South Side Community Council; South Side Local Development Company; Spotlight Costumes; Toys for Tots; UPMC Health System; UPMC Presbyterian; and VITAC, Incorporated.

As always, Toys for Tots, operated by the United State Marines with the able assistance of volunteers from Pittsburgh Cares, provided the largest number of toys. The members of the OASIS Program, located at Macy's, also donated many toys and gifts.

Financial support was also provided. Among these donors were: Birmingham Foundation; Duquesne University; Henry Kaufmann Senior Nutrition Program; Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community; Pittsburgh Opera; Siegel Eye Care Associates; and South Side Community Council.

Brashear Association received special assistance from several sources. Hill Top United Methodist Church, with guidance from The Reverend Sue Hutchins, both collected toys and helped in the distribution. The Lighthouse Cathedral also helped to distribute toys. Both the Office of Volunteers at Duquesne University and Hot Metal Bridge Faith Community worked with the agency throughout the holiday season to provide assistance in many ways.

The Stuff Your Stocking promotion sponsored by the South Side Local Development Corporation attracted additional food donors. Finally, the leadership of Pittsburgh Cares was instrumental in helping Brashear maintain contact and contributions from Toys for Tots.

The Brashear Association is a United Way agency. Its food assistance programs received some support from the Hunger Trust Fund of the City of Pittsburgh, administered by Pittsburgh Community Services.

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