Thirty-five years ago, customers of Bob's Bar in Glassport began tossing coins on the canopy above the bar for fun.
When customer Paul "Poodge" Stecak suggested donating the accumulated change to Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, a tradition was launched that has netted the hospital's Free Care Fund about $222,000 collected from 1977 through 2011 at the bar toss.
Between Christmas and New Year's, owner Bob Wawrzeniak hopes to add $100 to the banked $14,900 collected this year and send a check for $15,000 to the Free Care Fund.
"It is awesome that from this little neighborhood bar open only a couple of hours a day comes this," patron Becky Manns of Jefferson Hills said. Bob's Bar is open from 1 to 7 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays.
A banner hung along a wall updates patrons on the running total.
Mr. Wawrzeniak empties the two boxes over the canopy every day and counts the money.
Cash left on the bar as tips for Mr. Wawrzeniak also winds up in the fund.
Gerard Greer, who moved to Glassport a few months ago, lost no time in becoming a "local."
"Knowing tips go straight to the kids, how could you not want to give?" he asked.
At Christmastime, Mr. Wawrzeniak sends a check to the hospital from the year's contributions.
"It's a thrill I look forward to every year," he said.
Greg Barrett, president of Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, said that "Bob's Bar has a long-standing relationship with Children's ... the contributions [help] provide care to every sick or injured child who needs it.''
Mr. Wawrzeniak, 82, who was born and raised in Glassport, bought the former Chuck's Bar from his uncle, Chuck Pokropski, in 1956. He doe the cleaning, stocking and bartending himself and said he plans to continue as long as he is able.
"To keep moving is the best thing in the world for somebody my age," he said.
Customer Linda Rodman of Lincoln said well-meaning patrons with bad aim also provide Mr. Wawrzeniak with an opportunity to stay active.
"When they try to throw coins into the boxes but miss, it gives Bob exercise to bend over and pick them up."neigh_south
Margie Smykla, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.