This story was updated July 27 2021, to correct the contact email address.

WEST MIDDLESEX — The past year was difficult for the nonprofit “Marla Makes A Difference,” from cancelled fundraisers to limited donations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Named for the late West Middlesex graduate Marla Pivarnik, the organization donates notebooks and other school supplies to students at local school districts. The nonprofit depends on monetary and material donations to make its distributions possible, and their first major fundraiser since the pandemic’s restrictions were loosened will be a cornhole tournament later this summer at Nancy’s Middlesex Tavern.

The cornhole tournament will be held at 12 p.m. Aug. 14, at 3453 Sharon Road, West Middlesex. Nancy’s Middlesex Tavern held a similar tournament in 2019, which generated $1,080 for “Marla Makes A Difference,” and Marla’s mother Melinda Pivarnik said the business’ manager, Bobby Hazlett, was interested in bringing the event back this year.

“Bobby contacted me back in June, and asked ‘When do you want to do the cornhole tournament?’” Melinda said.

It costs $20 for a team of two players, with registration taking place from 12 to 1 p.m. before the tournament begins. Other offerings include a Chinese auction, with gift baskets provided by local businesses and T-shirts for “Marla’s Notebooks,” with half of the T-shirts’ proceeds benefiting the nonprofit, Melinda said.

Another fundraiser planned for 2020, a spaghetti dinner to be held at the Kedron Lodge in West Middlesex, sold about 100 tickets before it was canceled because of COVID-19. The event has not yet been rescheduled, but Marla said she hopes to hold the dinner eventually and honor those tickets already sold.

The organization was at least able to secure its 501c3 status last year, with the official letter dated Aug. 26, 2020 — a significant date for the Pivarnik family, since Marla passed away on Aug. 26, 2013, Melinda said.

Marla, the daughter of Melinda and Michael Pivarnik, was a student of the West Middlesex Area School District and a 2013 graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Marla planned on attending the University of Pittsburgh for her master’s degree in psychology, but she passed away in her sleep later that year due to prescriptions accidentally prescribed by two different physicians.

Melinda continued to donate books to Oakview Elementary School’s library on Marla’s birthday, and eventually decided to keep Marla’s memory alive by donating school supplies to the students, since Marla always enjoyed shopping for school supplies.

Marla’s family members were able to distribute the supplies to West Middlesex students starting in 2017, with the program growing to include donations to students at Musser Elementary School in Sharon and Kennedy Catholic Family of Schools.

Though plans for this year’s distribution are being developed, Melinda said providing supplies for each student, such as notebooks with Marla’s story and individual pencil cases containing supplies, paid off during the COVID-19 pandemic since students could not share supplies.

Monetary donations can be made to “Marla Makes A Difference” through PayPal and Venmo, while people can purchase items or gift cards as well, since cards can be forwarded to needy families.

To contact “Marla Makes A Difference,” send an email to marlamakesadifference2019@gmail.com.

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Like DAVID L. DYE on Facebook or email him at ddye@sharonherald.com.

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