Operation Our Town awards over $53K

Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec Brad Hatch (right) with the Altoona Area School District was one of 18 recipient groups that received a cash award from Operation Our Town representatives Phil Devorris and Randy Feathers (not pictured) at the Park Hills Country Club on Wednesday.

In the wake of a drug bust Monday that resulted in charges against 72 people and a fatal shooting in late July allegedly from a drug deal gone bad, thousands of dollars were distributed Wed­nesday to local organizations focused on drug abuse prevention and treatment.

More than $53,000 in grants was distributed to 18 programs of local churches, schools and community agen­cies for the 2018 grant cycle of Operation Our Town, a community and business partnership designed to promote healthy neighborhoods and protect citizens from illegal drug use and resulting crime.

Checks were awarded at Park Hills Golf Club by Operation Our Town board member Randy Feathers, a former Altoona police officer who formerly served as a regional director of the attorney general’s narcotics bur­eau.

“It’s a community problem, and it’s going to take the community to fix it,” Feathers said, stressing that, while the law enforcement is what makes headlines, prevention and treatment are crucial.

The recipients who were awarded serve children across the county.

Operation Our Town board member Phil Devorris lauded all 18 of the grant recipients for their efforts in educating youth to make good decisions and help adults recover from bad ones.

“This money is to help your tireless effort,” he said. “We are happy to help you in this small way and by spreading the word about what you do,” he said.

Operation Our Town has awarded $3.2 million to local programs over the past 11 years. Applications for the 2019 grant cycle open in the spring.

The 2018 recipients:

– Altoona Area Public Li­brary for the purchase of art kits to serve students after school.

– Altoona Area School District for supplies, snacks and incentives for a new after-school program for sixth- to ninth-graders.

– Altoona Area School District ELECT program (family literacy) for meals for pregnant and parenting teen­agers and their children at events.

– Altoona Area School District Foundation Project SOAR (Study, Overcome, Achieve, Reward) for supplies for students identified to receive financial assistance to pursue post-secondary education.

– Blair Regional YMCA: Family Y-Nites for swimming, arts and crafts, games, music, food and local entertainment.

– Booker T. Washington Revitalization Corp. for Iuzzolino Park revitalization.

– Central Blair Recreation & Park Commission for youth sports program supplies and equipment.

– Child Advocates of Blair County for supplies and incentives for the CHOICES summer program, which serves teenage girls at Evergreen Manors and promotes healthy decisions.

– Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation for its after-school and summer programs.

– Hollidaysburg Area School District for startup costs of launching a hotline offering students a way to report issues anonymously.

– Joshua House for the Cross-Town Basketball program.

– Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church for supplies and small scholarships for students.

– N.E.W.S Worthy Net­work for startup equipment to launch a work services program for women in the FAITH Foundation Recovery House.

– Refuge Youth Network for outdoor adventure trips.

– The Door Student Ser­vices in Bellwood for helping students pursue meaningful career opportunities.

– The Nehemiah Project for redevelopment of the lower Fairview community.

– The ROCK (Reaching Out to Community Kids) for food, athletic equipment and teaching resources.

– United Way of Blair County’s Family Resource Center for the Parents as Teachers program and the Make Parenting a Pleasure curriculum.