Group equips students for school

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More than 3,000 students in the region are heading back to school with new backpacks and supplies because of the collaborative effort of thousands of people.

Hope4the'Burgh brought together businesses, organizations, churches, schools, government and others from eight communities to help families in need with school supplies, food and health screenings.

Sponsored by Network of Hope, the service fair also offered some fun with family activities and games. It was held Aug. 18 in Ambridge, Braddock, Coraopolis, Hill District, Millvale, Sharpsburg, South Side and Tarentum.

"It's important because there's poverty and people need help," Mariano Torrez, 28, of West View said of the event. Ms. Torrez, who immigrated here from Nicaragua in January, attended Hope4the'Burgh in Tarentum.

"It's hard to adjust," she said of coming to a new country. "When people are nice to you, it makes you want to stay. ... I personally benefitted from the food they were giving out and the medical screenings."

The eighth annual event handed out roughly 3,200 backpacks and served about 12,000 meals. It came out of a collaboration of businesses and organizations including World Vision, Allison Park Church, Verizon Foundation, Highmark, White Fields Foundation, PNC Community Banking and Cornerstone Television Network.

In addition to helping those in need of food, furniture and other everyday items, Network of Hope strives to promote change, offering services for youth and programs for recovering addicts.

The nonprofit focuses on serving the working poor in Pittsburgh and in pockets in the suburbs, according to Deana Leone, executive director. Network of Hope started 30 years ago with a food pantry operated by Allison Park Church. It blossomed into other endeavors that included a food program for homeless people, a substance abuse recovery program and a counseling service. Ten years ago, the network became a separate agency.

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Corey Carrington, freelance writer:


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