Bank has long supported charities

October 10, 2006|By Nicole Fuller | Nicole Fuller,sun reporter

Underprivileged youths have been able to attend camps in Harford and Cecil counties. My Sister's Place, a day program for homeless women and their children in Baltimore, has been given money for an expansion. And for the past 25 years, students from the middle Eastern Shore have received $7,000 scholarships to attend Washington College in Chestertown.

Since 1981, Baltimore-based Mercantile Bank & Trust has donated more than $27 million to local organizations through its charitable arm, the Mercantile Trust, in partnership with the Baltimore Community Foundation.

Yesterday's announcement of the merger between Mercantile and Pittsburgh-based PNC Financial Services Group Inc. raised questions about the future of the local bank's history of charitable contributions.

James E. Rohr, chairman and chief executive officer of PNC, said in a conference call with analysts: "In every single acquisition that PNC has been involved in, we have contributed more money to the resident community than the resident company did before."

PNC has pledged a $25 million donation to support the Mercantile Trust, said Janice Davis, Mercantile's spokeswoman. "This is one way that they are demonstrating from the very beginning that they are being very supportive of the community."

Mercantile's matching gift program, which matches charitable contributions made by its employees in Maryland, has donated $750,000 to local organizations in the past year.

Donald C. Fry, president of the Greater Baltimore Committee, said Mercantile has never wavered in its commitment to organizations in Baltimore.

"Whenever there's going to be a special event, a fundraising campaign ... Mercantile has always been one of those companies that you could go and receive financial support from," Fry said. "Sometimes the initial reaction is that you worry, because you lose that local contact. But at the same time, this could result in an even stronger community."

Thomas E. Wilcox, president of the Baltimore Community Foundation, said he is confident that PNC will continue Mercantile's practices.

"The people in Baltimore are very philanthropy-oriented, and they're not going anywhere," Wilcox said. "I'm so grateful for what Mercantile has done over the years, and I'm confident that something good will come out of this."

nicole.fuller@baltsun.com

Sun reporter M. William Salganik contributed to this article.

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