Most children their age usually ask for video games or the latest cellphone as birthday gifts.
Antonio Campitell and Veta Piscitella asked for help.
The Windber area youngsters threw a pool party Wednesday for their Aug. 1 birthdays, collecting donations for their favorite charities and the well-worn Windber Recreation Park pool.
“We’re blessed,” said Veta, who turns 12 today. “We don’t really need presents, so we decided to tell people to put what they wanted to give us toward a good cause instead.”
Veta and Antonio originally thought of the idea to raise funds for a party pit at Windber Recreation Park’s swimming pool.
They suggested $10 donations, and decided to add two charities to the donation list for anyone wishing to chip in a little more.
“We thought about doing this last year,” said Antonio, 13. “It’s better to help people who need it than to get more stuff we really don’t need.”
Antonio, the son of Tony and Kelly Campitell, chose St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, noting his family has donated to the well-known charity for years.
Veta, the daughter of Tom and Becky Piscitella, chose World Vision, a Christian humanitarian organization her Sunday school supports. She and a handful of classmates have been sponsoring a 3-year-old Costa Rican girl since January, she said.
Both kids are well aware of the local swimming pool’s needs. They said they spend “almost every day” there in the summer, and know all about the renovations it needs.
Antonio’s mom is a member of the Windber Municipal Authority, which is hoping to raise funds for a six-figure pool renovation in the years to come.
“These kids know what we want to do,” Kelly Campitell said. “But the cool thing is – they came to us. They thought of it on their own. For kids that age, it’s just great.”
A crowd of approximately 50 friends and family showed up for the event. It looked the part of a typical 12-year-old’s pool party – complete with balloons, beach-themed cupcakes and other treats – aside from the student-run donation booth at the pool’s entrance.
The pair ended up raising $350 for the party pit – and about the same amount, combined, for the two charities, Kelly Campitell said.
“These kids could have asked for XBox games. The fact they are trying to help, it’s really great,” said C.W. Beckley, Windber Municipal’s recreation director.
Beckley said a concrete pad and wooden, covered pavilion is planned for a “party pit” area at one corner of the pool.
He estimated that with borough crews handling the labor, it will likely cost a few thousand dollars to build next year – if all goes well.
The authority likely would provide the party space for special events, with revenue it would generate used to maintain the pool, he said.
Reporter David Hurst covers Windber for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @tddavidhurst.