VERNON TOWNSHIP — More than three dozen local charities received a total of more than $39,000 Tuesday night during the 10th annual Palmiero Give Back Live at Palmiero Toyota.
Since the event's inception a decade ago, more than $180,000 has been given away to local charities, according to Allison Palmiero Brady, president and general manager of Palmiero Toyota.
Each year, the dealership takes applications from qualified charities for the competition. During November, customers as well as Palmiero Toyota employees and owners cast votes.
Four charities participated the first year with $2,500 given away. The event has grown by leaps and bounds since.
This year, there were 38 charities participating and all received at least $100 with the top 10 receiving a minimum of $1,000. The top three each received $5,000, including $2,500 from Palmiero plus a matching $2,500 from Toyota.
"It's just grown and grown," Palmiero Brady said. "It's neat because our customers and our employees decide and can say, 'These are the charities I want to support.' Customers and the community support us, so where would they like us to spend the money?"
The top three winners were Seton Catholic School of Meadville, The Learning Center of Meadville and PA Stitchers of Valor.
"This is such a great opportunity for so many nonprofits," said Jamie Longo, advancement director for Seton Catholic School, which was the Customer Voted Winner. Longo is in charge of fundraising for the school.
The school plans to use its award as a matching grant to upgrade its computers for students, she said.
"This works out great because we just submitted the grant," Longo said.
Sarah Wolford and Dan Winston, teachers with The Learning Center, the Owners Voted Winner, also were pleased to have $5,000 awarded to the school.
"It's awesome — because we're such a small school — to get so much support," Winston said of the 74-student school.
There are no specific plans as yet for the funds, according to Winston and Wolford.
"We do a lot of hands-on learning, so it's always nice to be able to go out and buy something for the kids," Wolford said.
Collene Munn of PA Stitchers of Valor, the Employee Voted Winner, said she was surprised her organization was one of the overall winners. The group makes quilts, which are given to local veterans.
The volunteer group needs more than $200 worth of supplies for each of the quilts it makes, Munn said. The group makes about 100 quilts annually.
"I was hoping for the top five. This is really neat," Munn said. "This (money) will go into fabric and supplies we need for more quilts for next year."
In addition to the cash awards to all 38 organizations, each organization was allowed to video a short commercial to air through 2020 at The Movies at Meadville and on local cable TV to highlight their work for the community plus each receive a short feature story in The Meadville Tribune during a 38-week period in 2020.
For those who couldn’t make it to the ceremony, it was broadcast live on Palmiero Toyota’s YouTube channel.
Keith Gushard can be reached at 724-6370 or by email at email@example.com.