The latest recipient of the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation's highest award was reluctant to accept the honor.
"When Jodi [Cessna] contacted me to give me the award, I said I didn't want it. I don't think anyone gives to get recognition," Stephen G. Sheetz, chairman of Sheetz Family Council, said. "My mother and father would cringe. You don't give for recognition; you give to help others."
"The Blair County Community Foundation recognizes someone who gives both time and financially to the community, and Steve Sheetz is a perfect example of someone who gives greatly of his time as a volunteer and supports many organizations throughout the community," said Jodi Cessna, foundation director.
Mirror photo by J.D. Cavrich
Nancy and Steve Sheetz smile after Steve received the Blair County Philanthropy Award.
Sheetz was selected by a committee based on the criteria that the recipient of the Blair County Philanthropy Award should be someone who has given generously of their time and money for the betterment of Blair County. The 15th annual award was presented during the foundation's annual luncheon Thursday at The Casino at Lakemont Park.
Sheetz served as president of Sheetz Inc. from 1984-95 and as chairman of the board from 1995 to 2013.
Among the numerous organizations Sheetz and his wife, Nancy, support are Sister Paula DelGrosso's Food for Families Soup Kitchen; Penn State Altoona, particularly student scholarships and the Sheetz Fellows Program as well as the Sheetz Center for Entrepreneurial Excellence and the Enactus Program; The ARC of Blair County; Blair County Arts Foundation; Gloria Gates Memorial Foundation; Big Brothers/Big Sisters and more.
Receiving the award brought back memories of his childhood, which caused Sheetz's voice to crack at times.
"I was one of eight children, and every Sunday my parents put us in a station wagon and went to Simpson United Methodist Church," he said. "After church, we would take mom home, and dad took us to Bob's first and only store."
Sheetz and his siblings would shop and deliver food for the shut-ins.
"That had a big impact on me," he said. "Many of those women didn't get to see people; they were glad to see us."
Sheetz also said the children were required to work the summer after they turned 12. They had two choices: the family's Harshbarger Dairy or Bob's store on Union Avenue.
Steve worked with his older brother.
"I worked 25 hours a week," he said. "Every Friday he gave me a fresh $20 bill. I was thrilled to get it. It felt good to earn money and to help others as well. My wife and I have been blessed to be in the position we are in, and it gives us a lot of delight to help others."
Past recipients of the award include T. Dean Lower, G. William Ward, Donald E. Wissinger, Anthony Misciagna, the Hite family, Gerald P. Wolf, Shirley Pechter, Ann Benzel, Dorothea D. Nelson, John P. Kazmaier, Willard E. "Bill" Campbell, Michael W. McLanahan, Donald L. Detwiler and Barry Halbritter.
The annual luncheon also featured the presentation of nearly 90 scholarship awards to area high school students.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.