ST. MARYS — A St. Marys business owner recently donated more than $20,000 worth of landscaping supplies to a volunteer group in Elk County for a reason close to his heart.
The Twin Lakes Recreation Area, based in Wilcox, requires a lot of upkeep, and that is provided by iby the Friends of Twin Lakes ANF (Allegheny National Forest) nonprofit organization, a group of Elk County locals passionate about natural resources.
Richard Cooney, owner of Dave’s Saw Shop in St. Marys, donated landscaping supplies, two John Deere lawnmowers and a professional-grade weed-eater/brush trimmer for the FOTL’s efforts April 19.
Cooney’s wife, Ruth, died in January, and she loved to visit the park, according to the FOTL group.
“I can’t think of a single summer, growing up, that wasn’t spent at Twin Lakes,” her daughter, Betsy Dutoit, says in a news release. “We would pack up and go for the day — not just my siblings, but my aunts and all my cousins.
“We would run the trails in our bare feet, swim to the bottom and pull up buckets of mud to cover ourselves with, then chase our parents asking for hugs.”
Dutoit also recalls one summer finding a bottle of shampoo in the restrooms and making a slip and slide, she says.
“Twin Lakes was a huge part of my childhood, and I know my mom loved taking us there,” she said. “It’s truly an honor to see my dad giving back to such a special place.”
Ruthie was also an avid volunteer, said her stepdaughter Michelle Muccio in a news release. She always enjoyed lending a hand and using her talents and kindness to help others.
The volunteer group documented almost 1,470 volunteer hours in its first summer session from 2018-2019.
“Mr. Cooney’s generosity is breathtaking,” said FOTL Board President Laura Funaki in a news release. “The majority of volunteer hours logged last year were spent mowing and doing general landscaping activities, with volunteers often bringing their own tools and supplies.”
Cooney’s donation in memory of his wife was not only touching, but allows the Friends group to have time-saving measures vital to their outdoor work, Funaki said.