More than 70 sidewalk benches scattered throughout Kennedy, McKees Rocks and Stowe are offering more than just a resting place for passers-by.
Proceeds from advertising on the 72 benches provide scholarships funds for students at Sto-Rox and Montour high schools and for wheel chairs, walkers and the installation of handicap accessible ramps at homes.
The ads are purchased on a yearly basis and usually reflect a company's business card. Some companies purchase multiple benches and use the ads as a way to direct customers to their business.
The benches are found at bus stops in Kennedy and sprinkled along main thoroughfares in McKees Rocks and Stowe.
The bench program has been a fundraiser for the Sto-Ken-Rox Lions Club for more than 20 years, said Julie Palmer.
The McKees Rocks resident is referred to as 'bench queen' by her fellow Lions members. She and her husband Roger collect payments and negotiate contracts with advertisers.
The couple doesn't do it all by themselves.
Len Pesce is in charge of cleaning around the benches twice a month.
Paul Musko and Edward Sigmund haul new benches from the manufacturer, as well as, make and install the seats.
And, Stowe commissioner Cheryl McDermott works with guidance counselors at the schools to spread the word about scholarship applications.
This year, four $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Marcedes Bryant, Tierra Moses, Kelly McGowan and Cody Wineberg of Sto-Rox.
The scholarship money was awarded during a Lions Club dinner, while certificates indicating the winners were provided during a school assembly.
Most people do not know the benches serve a philanthropic purpose, said Ms. McDermott.
In addition to the bench fundraiser, the group collects used eyeglasses for Lions Club International via a repurposed U.S. Postal Service mailbox painted white and located outside the Shop 'n Save in Kennedy's Kenmawr Plaza.
The glasses are cleaned and tagged by prescription strength and sent to missionary groups.
Mrs. Palmer said she is surprised by the large number of glasses still being collected from the location in spite of the continual increase in contact lens use.
Sto-Ken-Rox Lions Club meets on the first Tuesday of every month at Rocky's II, 1562 Island Ave., Stowe.
Dinner is at 6 p.m., followed by a meeting at 7.
Sonja Reis, freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org