Officials from the Rivers Casino presented four local charities with checks totaling about $146,000  at a morning press conference on Wednesday, August 19, in the casino’s front entrance.

Allegheny General Hospital, the Allegheny County World War II Veterans Memorial Fund, the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Urban League of Pittsburgh each received just over $34,000 in funds raised during the casino’s two test run nights on August 7 and 8.

Mayor Ravenstahl slipped in right before the ceremony and spoke for a few minutes after Ed Fasulo, chief operations officer, and George Matta, director of business development and community relations, presented the checks.

Ravenstahl praised the casino for giving back to the community and called it a “good neighbor.”

“There are a lot of other organizations who’d like to be standing here,” Ravenstahl said. “They couldn’t have done a better job of choosing [charities].”

Matta handed each check over to representatives from the charities, who thanked the casino for its donations.

“We think they’re very worthy organizations and we think they’ll put the money to good use,” Fasulo said.

 
All four charities will use the money for existing programs, representatives said.

Allegheny General Hospital on the Northside will use the money to help fund its Charity Care program, said Duke Rupert, senior vice president, and Drew Keys, vice president of fundraising. The Charity Care program helps uninsured and underinsured patients pay their medical bills.

“Our commitment is to provide service to all patients regardless of ability to pay,” Rupert said.

Anne Hawkins of the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank said the $34,000 would cover the cost of two truckloads of bulk pasta the food bank planned to purchase.

 
Hawkins said that the organization served between 1,000 and 2,000 new people each month.

“There’s a lot of newly unemployed … and a lot of people working minimum wage jobs and some of them can’t quite make it,” she said.

Debra Tucker, vice president of programs and services at the Urban League of Pittsburgh, said the league will use the money to fund its existing programs. These include housing and hunger services, youth development, and education and employment services, she said.

John Bento and Howard Pfeifer accepted the check for the World War II Memorial Fund and said the money will go toward raising the $4.5 million needed to build and maintain a monument. They said they had $2 million so far.

The memorial will be built on the North Shore near the Bettis Grill and Del Monte Building on North Shore Drive, and will include a list of names of everyone from Southwestern Pennsylvania who fought in the war, as well as a list of products made locally to support the war effort.

The press conference was small and brief, but reporters couldn’t resist the opportunity to ask Fasulo what the casino would be doing about the G-20 economic summit coming to Pittsburgh in late September, and what it would be doing about parking during Steelers games.

 

Previously, at least on game days, the casino wanted to charge a $50 parking fee to anyone who did not spend a certain amount at the casino. They later altered it so that only non-players will have to pay a fee. The casino also reduced the fee to $20 as reported by the Post-Gazette.

Fasulo said he had faith in the casino’s security and did not foresee any problems. He emphasized that players would never have to pay for parking.