Woman donates earnings to honor father, late Whitehall Twp Fire Chief

By: Sophie Kluthe

Every day our team is amazed by the generosity of our community, from the big corporations we partner with to the individual citizen who may only have $10 to give. But this week, one donation in particular arrived with a letter containing a story that touched our hearts. With the permission of the sender, Barbara McConaghey, we decided to share the story behind the financial contribution. 

It read:

“I am enclosing a donation check for $350, the proceeds I received from a birthday promotion I did in August. I am a distributor of health and wellness products, and for one week, anyone who purchased these products received cash back. The proceeds of these sales would be donated to the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross.”

But the generosity didn’t end there. As it turns out, McConaghey was carrying out a legacy of giving back to the community that first began a generation before her.

Robert L. Benner, photo courtesy Barbara McConaghey

“My late father, Robert L. Benner, was the Fire Chief in Whitehall Township. Up until his passing in March 2016, he always said that no matter what the disaster, the Red Cross was there to assist. So I felt my need to give back and I would like this money to help anyone who needs it in a time of disaster. This is in memorial to him, my father. He always gave his time and dedication to the community he served in, and he became an icon here in the Lehigh Valley.”

If you’re from that area, you probably know the name Robert Benner; it’s knit into the fabric of Whitehall Township. Benner served the township for almost five decades. A fire training center is dedicated in his name, and his passing brought the entire community together in mourning. The township later named a road in his memory

To learn that Robert Benner’s daughter, Barbara McConaghey, chose the American Red Cross to donate to in honor of this great man humbles us and fills us with gratitude. Thank you, Barbara, for supporting disaster prevention and relief in your community, and for sharing your story with us. 

The letter from Barbara McConaughey

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