Fourth Annual "Neighbor Day" Continues Fred Rogers' Legacy
The weekend of March 20 marked this year’s fourth annual “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day celebration-- and what would have been Fred Rogers’ 83rd birthday -- with events in our real Pittsburgh neighborhood and around the country.
The United Way of Allegheny County celebrated with their first annual "Good Neighbor Awards" honoring non-profits, corporations and the people who have committed to long-term volunteer efforts in the community. On hand to thank the volunteers were Joanne Rogers and Fred Rogers Company president Bill Isler.
As caring neighbors to families, The Pittsburgh Children’s Museum and the Pittsburgh Zoo once again offered free admission to families on “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Day. Special storytelling events were held at local libraries in the region. Several Pittsburgh groups hosted Sweater Drives, including Pittsburgh’s Downtown Partnership, Carnegie Libraries of Pittsburgh and The Heritage House in partnership with the Boy Scouts.
Public television stations around the country joined with other “neighbors” in their communities to host a Mister Rogers Sweater Drive. KCTS in Seattle partnered with the food co-op PCC Natural Markets for the third year and collected a record number of more than 6000 sweaters and coats! Eighteen bags full of warm clothing for babies and children were donated to the “Baby Boutique” of the Wellspring Family Center, an agency that provides services for homeless families. An additional 135 bags went to Northwest Center, a community service organization serving adults with disabilities. Says KCTS Media Relations Specialist Jason Pagano, “The Mister Rogers Sweater Drive really resonates with people. They love his show, and his sweaters are iconic. We had a terrific partner in PCC Natural Markets. The Sweater Drive is such a great project that makes a real impact for a very manageable investment of our time. Everybody should do it!”
In Midland, Michigan again this year, Molly McFadden, owner of Molly’s Bistro, found an innovative way to honor Fred’s birthday. Molly and her staff celebrated the day with another “neighborly” event as part of downtown Midland’s “Meet Your Merchants Day.” Molly opened the door to her Bistro to shoppers -- “for a free bowl of soup and a hug.” She also invited knitters to come and knit children’s sweaters to be auctioned off in the fall as part of Central Michigan University Public TV’s Mister Rogers’ Sweater Drive. In nearby Freeland, another group of knitters gathered at a local yarn shop on March 20 to start work on their children’s sweaters that will also be included in that auction. Linda Dielman, program/outreach manager at WCMU, says “Molly is an outstanding ‘neighbor.’ Professionally and personally, she takes Fred’s messages to heart and loves us all ‘the way we are.’”