TRUST A GIRL named Holli -- well, it's close enough to holly for Yuletide work -- to provide a heart-warming Christmas story. Holli Fox, a 17-year-old honor student at Jefferson Morgan High School in Jefferson Township, returned to UPMC Mercy's Trauma Burn Center last week to repay the kindness and care she received at the hospital more than a decade ago. Back then, she was a 6-year-old with second- and third-degree burns suffered in an accident involving a pot of boiling water. She did not return empty-handed; she brought $300 worth of toys that were purchased with money raised in a senior project. It was her way of saying thanks -- as she said, it was miserable being a burn patient, but the nurses made it bearable. "I tried to get toys that would go for all ages, and I felt like this was a good time of year for it," she said. Indeed it is.
BANKS ARE NOT usually the most Santa-like entities but BNY Mellon played the part well last week, bringing the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund $500,000, the second-largest corporate gift since UPMC started its challenge grant about two years ago (UPMC pledged $10 million over 10 years and offers $1 for every $1.50 raised, which means that BNY Mellon's generosity will generate about $835,000 to fund college scholarships for graduates of the Pittsburgh Public Schools who meet certain requirements). BNY Mellon's gift came through the BNY Mellon Charitable Foundation. As Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield previously gave $1.5 million, and PNC Foundation $400,000, the promise of the Promise is being fulfilled.
THE WORDS "there was no room for them at the inn" echo through this season. For some among us, there is never any room at the inn or anywhere else. The homeless poor are always with us, living and dying on city streets -- but not entirely without those who care about them. As Post-Gazette writer Sadie Gurman reported, Operation Safety Net, a social service agency, holds an annual service for the homeless under a Pittsburgh bridge where many sleep. About two dozen people were there Monday, the first day of winter, to mourn each of the 11 homeless people who died this year, finding room in their hearts to accommodate them.