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Connellsville residents take the snow angel challenge

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Amelia and Greg Lincoln watch as Max House presents Rita Smith with a donation.
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The Rev. Bob Lubic creates a snow angel.
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Connellsville Mayor Greg Lincoln and his daughter make snow angels.

It was a cold snowy Sunday and Amelia Lincoln, 8, of Connellsville, was restless.

Her father, Mayor Greg Lincoln was a little bored himself, so he told Amelia to get her coat — they were going outside to make snow angels.

However, before they ever hit the snow-covered ground, the mayor hatched an idea and told Amelia they were going to challenge some friends and family to make their own angels in the snow and donate $5 each to Connellsville Community Ministries.

So began the snow angel challenge.

To date, more than $2,000 has been raised for the faith-based, nonprofit organization that helps the needy, said Rita Smith, it’s executive director.

That’s great, said Lincoln, whose goal was $500.

“I really didn’t know how it would go,” said Lincoln, who included family, friends and some city officials in his challenge.

He posted a Facebook video of him and Amelia in the snow.

“Once the video started being shared, it got going,” Lincoln said.

He also challenged the Rev. Bob Lubic, leader of Connellsville’s Immaculate Conception, St. Rita and St. John the Evangelist churches and Dunbar’s St. Aloyisus.

“When Father Bob did the video, it solidified the challenge,” Lincoln said.

Lubic, a member of the Community Ministries board of directors, took it up a notch, forming his snow angel wearing a swimsuit on a 14-degree day in Deep Creek, Md.

“As a member of the CACM I felt I needed to accept the challenge and hopefully encourage others to do it and support the work of the ministry,” said Lubic, who challenged members of his staff.

Lubic said the Rev. Dan Ulishney and several staff members of Our Lady, Queen of the Yough created angels in the snow outside the parish office.

Lincoln was appreciative of the support, adding many people donated more than $5.

“People didn’t think twice about it,” Lincoln said.

In fact, one local businessman and his family went even further. The Max and Margaret House family donated $1,000.

House offered to match the total amount collected, but Lincoln cut it off at $1,000, not wanting to take advantage of their generosity.

“His offer to match was totally unsolicited, and we were so grateful,” Smith said. “He is a wonderful, community-minded person.”

House went on to challenge members of various organizations of which he is a member, including the Rotary Club and Greater Connellsville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Margaret House challenged Stacey Traynor, a West Crawford Elementary School kindergarten teacher who pitched the challenge to Principal Traci Kuhns, who loved the idea.

Traynor led Kuhns and others at the school in the fundraising effort, but in a different manner.

Traynor said they accepted the challenge on a snowless day, so the group formed its angels on the gymnasium floor.

“Trust me, dirty gym floor snow angels were much worse than the cold snow,” Traynor posted on a Facebook video.

That effort alone brought in at least $150.

Traynor and Kuhns believe in helping others and they support Community Ministries.

“It’s a great organization to support,” said Traynor, adding community ministries helps many across the area with its various programs.

Kuhns is proud of the staff at West Crawford, which often aids local organizations.

The West Crawford group now is waiting for the Dunbar Township Elementary School staff to take the challenge and call on those at another school to do the same.

Dunbar Borough is also getting into the giving spirit, Lincoln said. Representatives there want to raise $1,000 for the ministries through the challenge.

Lincoln said some participants followed Lubic in “taking it up a notch.”

Dr. Frank Jacobyansky made snow angels while juggling. Students from Project Talent did it their own special way, the mayor said.

Girl Scout Troop 52945 wanted to participate in the challenge as well, but according to the Connellsville Little House Facebook page, Girl Scout regulations prevent Girl Scouts from collecting cash donations for another organization. So the troop contacted Connellsville Community Ministries and asked what they needed. Their response was toilet paper. Troop 52945 is now challenging Junior Troop 16321 and Cub Scout Pack 101 to collect toilet paper for the ministries.

Lincoln predicted the challenge will continue, thanks to social media.

“This is only a positive thing for our community,” said the mayor, adding Amelia was excited by the response.

“She loves it. I’ve showed her all the videos,” he said. “She thinks it’s cool to see all the families and friends.”

Smith said the money will go a long way.

“Two thousand dollars in one week, that’s just crazy, but every dollar counts, no matter how small or big,” said Smith, who participated along with her 4-year-old daughter, Audra.

Community Ministries relies largely on donations to operate, she said. One-third of its annual budget is generated through the Care & Share Boutique thrift shop, which raises about $130,000 a year.

The organization serves people in need through the boutique, a food pantry, crisis assistance, housing improvement and medical lending. It further sponsors programs to benefit children and senior citizens.

“We rely on the community and we have a community that is always there to help us out,” Smith said.

Quoting her predecessor, Chip Rowan, Smith described Community Ministries as “a conduit for people to do good.”

Smith and Lincoln noted that anyone with ideas for fundraisers are welcome to call them. Everything is appreciated.

Smith thanked Lincoln and others who participated in the snow angel challenge.

“It was great and it was a lot of fun,” she said.

Roxanne Abramowitz is a Tribune-Review staff writer.