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MAHONING VALLEY Spring to action for tall flower fund-raiser

By Ian Hill

Sunday, March 7, 2004

About 750 flowers will be placed throughout the area.
As spring arrives in the Mahoning Valley, local residents will notice tall flowers suddenly appearing in area businesses and schools.
The flowers, made of colorful construction paper and yard-high plastic tubes, are for the "Support by Yard" fund-raiser for the Mahoning Valley Epilepsy Fund, Inc., and the Help Hotline Crisis Center. The two nonprofit organizations are hoping to each collect a total of $20,000 from area residents who place quarters into the plastic tubes this spring.
"If we could broadly appeal to a lot of people for a little bit [of money,] it's going to help a lot of people a whole bunch," said Janet Mau, epilepsy fund director.
Mau said that about 750 of the flowers will be placed in the area this week, and that an additional 250 tubes are available interested businesses, residents and schools. Duane Piccirilli, executive director of Help Hotline, said he believes the flowers can help draw attention to the needs of the two organizations.
"We thought it was a novelty; it is something no one has done before," he said.
Hot-line services
Help Hotline provides a 24-hour suicide prevention hot line and counseling referral services, and the epilepsy fund works with people with epilepsy and their families.
"We're two agencies that provide a lot of free services to the community," Piccirilli said.
He said the Help Hotline has a $1.4 million budget and received about 100,000 calls for assistance last year, and Mau said the epilepsy fund had a budget of $62,000. Both organizations rely on donations for funding, and Help Hotline also received money from government mental health agencies.
To get a flower for a business or school, call the epilepsy fund at (330) 270-8037.