All for the cause of education: PAEA gives back to groups that teach kids in other areas

PUNXSUTAWNEY — The Punxsutawney Area Education Association (PAEA) donated money to various non-profit organizations that offer programs for school children in the Punxsutawney Area School District.

"Part of the dues we pay each year go toward a community project," said Jeff Kuntz, social studies and math teacher at the Punxsutawney Area Middle School at a presentation held Monday at the Punxsutawney
Memorial Library.

"PAEA donates money to community organizations three or four times each year," he said.

Kuntz said PAEA had already made its first round of donations, and this group of donations was the second round.

The donations were presented to the Punxsutawney Memorial Library, Punxsutawney Area Community Center, Punxsutawney Weather Discovery Center and the Punxsutawney Community Concert Association for the student performance it holds at the high school in the spring each year.

"PAEA really appreciates what these organizations do for our community, and this is our opportunity to give back what they give to us," Kuntz said. "We also have a donation for the Punxsutawney Area High School Variety Show. Unfortunately, the person who was to accept that donation was unable to attend today's presentation."

Mary Jean Johnston, Weather Discovery Center project manager, said it will use the money for its educational programs with the students this spring.

"We have thousands of students come through the Weather Discovery Center each year," Johnston said, adding that number is increasing, and employees and volunteers are happy to teach about Punxsy Phil and weather science to the kids, and they hope to accommodate even more in the future.

Coral Ellshoff, Punxsutawney Memorial Library director, said since the money is from the education association, it will be used for educational programming.

"We have two new programs this year — the teen and 'tween programs," Ellshoff said.

She also said the library hopes to make the summer program even bigger this year than it was last year.

S. Thomas Curry, of the Punxsutawney Community Concert Association, said he is so happy to have support for the group’s programs.

"Every year, we like to have one of the artists the Concert Association brings in to perform at an assembly for the students to benefit from it," Curry said.

He said the Concert Association has a concert coming up soon, and the PAEA donation will help with a couple others that are scheduled for the next year.

Rob McCoy, director of the Punxsutawney Area Community Center, said the money received from the teachers' association will most likely be utilized in the Jackson Theater.

"We're currently working to replace the big windows in the theater," McCoy said.

He said those windows are in bad condition, and the board has been working toward getting some funds together.