For some, collecting pennies as a fundraising effort may not seem like such a good idea. But Friends of the Montour Trail have found it makes sense to add up the cents one at a time.
Last year, three separate Friends of the Trail groups raised between $700 and $1,000 for maintenance of the section of the 46-mile-long Montour Trail that runs through their areas. Organizers of the Pennies for the Trail campaign hope to continue the effort this month to help fund maintenance costs, which include putting down new limestone, repairing lawn mowers, removing downed trees and maintaining bridges, tunnels and benches.
"The idea is for folks to donate their unused pennies, but we do accept larger donations as well," said David Oyler, 61, secretary-treasurer of the South Park Friends of the Trail, which maintains the 11 miles of the trail that runs through South Park, Jefferson Hills and Clairton.
The Peters Friends of the Trail will kick off its fundraiser from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, when trail users can donate pennies and higher denominations at three spots along the trail. Contributions also can be dropped off at the Brush Run Road parking lot behind Farmhouse Coffee/My Big Fat Greek Gyro or behind St. Petersburg Center. In case of severe weather, donations will be collected behind St. Petersburg Center. Those unable to drop off their donation can call 724-941-6351.
The money collected will be used to maintain half of the 7 1/2 miles of trail in Peters. The other half of the trail, the Arrowhead Trail, is owned and maintained by Peters.
"In a few weeks, if the [state] Department of Environmental Protection gives approval, we hope to construct a new prefabricated bridge at the west end of the Arrowhead Trail," said Mark Ingrund, 55, bicyclist and president of Peters Friends of the Montour Trail. "The same section of trail will require a second bridge that may be forthcoming in the future."
Funding for the estimated $600,000 bridge project won't come from money raised through Pennies for the Trail -- $250,000 has been allocated for construction from the local share of casino revenue, and an additional $95,000 came from a grant through the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
"The remaining funding will come through the Montour Trail Council budget," Mr. Ingrund said.
The South Park Friends and the Bethel Park Friends will hold their Pennies for the Trail fundraisers Oct. 13. Trail users are asked to bring pennies or any other monetary donations to one of six collection spots along the trail between 8:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. in Bethel Park and between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. in South Park.
In Bethel Park, contributions can be dropped off at the Irishtown trailhead, the Limestone trailhead, or the access road to Washington School off Clifton Road.
In South Park, donations can be dropped off at the Bethel Park--South Park Waste Water Treatment Plant parking lot, at Gill Hall Road or at the Clairton Trailhead.
In case of severe weather, donations will be collected at the access road to Washington School for Bethel Park and at all of the collection points in South Park. Those unable to drop off their donation can mail a check made payable to Bethel Friends to P. O. Box 11, Bethel Park 15102 or contact Mr. Oyler at 412-831-9288 or email@example.com.
The Bethel Park section includes the 2.52-mile-long Bethel Branch of the trail and a quarter-mile-long section on the main line that runs between Peters and South Park.
Peter Kohnke, 71, president of Bethel Park Friends, has been a bicyclist since his teens and used to ride his bike from his home in Bethel Park to work at Southpointe once a week.
"Most of the distance was along the trail," Mr. Kohnke said.
He joins in the Friends' volunteer work parties when they meet at the Irishtown parking lot from 8:30 a.m. to noon on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, weather permitting, to maintain the trail.
Dave Zuchowski, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.