Category: Local News

Firefighter’s Son Donates to Fire Victims

by Jonathan Weaver

A week ago, 12-year-old Colin Kline was worried that his friend wouldn’t have any gifts for Christmas.

December 18, Colin’s friend, Zander Rehrer, Zander’s younger brother, Brandon, and their parents were victims of a house fire along North Water Street in Kittanning that destroyed most of their belongings and Christmas gifts.

The next morning, the Rehrer Brothers were not on the school bus, but Colin – a sixth grader at West Hills Intermediate in East Franklin Township – was already brainstorming how he could help, and decided to take one of his father’s firefighter boots on the bus to raise money before school let out for the holidays.

“(Zander) was my friend,” Colin said.

Father, Earl –Kittanning Hose Company #1 2nd Assistant Chief who battled the flames of the evening fire – said Colin text messaged him the idea and Colin’s goodwill spread to Bradigan’s Inc. Operations Manager Andy Bradigan and other employees.

“Not too many 12-year-olds would do something like this,” Earl, said, after he gave his son $10 to donate.

Mother, Tonya, was also “very proud” of her son.

In about 10 minutes at the company Christmas party December 20, about 40 employees and their families at Kittanning Country Club donated $230 before Bradigan and father, Paul, announced the company would also match donations – totaling a $460 check presented Tuesday.

Bradigan – who has built a rapport with Colin during the past three years – was impressed with Colin’s attitude.

“It was just a small way for the company to support Colin and his efforts to raise money for this family,” Bradigan said. “This time of year, it’s all about giving back – and for a 12-year-old to want to do this is very, very special. It’s a great thing he’s doing.”

Colin collected about $50 – through dollar bills, change and even a gift card – on the school bus, meaning the Rehrer Family had more than $500 to celebrate Christmas with yesterday.

Salvation Army Toy Distribution Aids Hundreds

Jessica Donaldson, daughter Madison, and friend Hastings Eddy, roll up their sleeves to prepare for the Salvation Army toy distribution Tuesday morning. Kittanning Salvation Army Lieutenant Amber Imhoff said close to 900 children received toys for Christmas thanks to the community effort.

by Jonathan Weaver

Hundreds of trash bags filled with new toys made a maze through the First United Methodist Church of Kittanning’s Covenant Center Tuesday.

And dozens more bicycles were spread throughout the hallways before local Salvation Army officials and volunteers began distributing the toys to children and families in need.

Lieutenant Amber Imhoff and a handful of volunteers were at the church Covenant Center at 8AM for last-minute preparations before distribution started at 10AM. She estimated “close to 900” children – perhaps a record-high – received toys through the Salvation Army this holiday season.

The Dayton/Rural Valley Salvation Army Service Unit ran by volunteers also maxed out on families they are able to service this holiday season.

“Every zip code has a Salvation Army assigned to them around the world,” Lieutenant Amber said.

In addition to the overflow of donations and monetary gifts that led to toys, Lt. Amber said an anonymous gift was also given the night before distribution, when a shopper paid off nearly $200 worth of shoes on hold.

Ford City Junior-Senior High students Madison Donaldson and Hastings Eddy packed a room full of brown paper bags with soap shaped as either ducks or deer.
They both enjoyed helping with the toy distribution – which also meant getting out of class an extra day before holiday break.

“I’m involved in their after-school activities, and I like helping (the Salvation Army),” Donaldson said. “You know that you’ll doing it all for a good cause.”

“There’s so much stuff,” Eddy added.

Donaldson, 14, and Eddy, 12, are also neighbors. Eddy volunteered last year as well.

Recipients were also able to pick-up copies of the new paperback Salvation Army Bible.
Among the several local businesses, non-profit groups and student fundraisers that collected toys were a local batch of a half-dozen businesses that also sorted toys before they were given away.

Bench Racers, LLC and Sidebar in Rayburn Township, Wolf and Arrows tattoo parlor in Kittanning, Creative Hair and Beauty Design and Purple Pinkie Nail Salon in Ford City and the mobile LA Taco truck dropped off toys last week before the distribution.

Bench Racers’ co-owner Marc Perella and wife, Sunny, said money in the gas station convenience store went toward purchasing toys.

“People who donated toys got an entry into the raffle, but not counting those donations, I spent $700 on toys from money raised during the raffle,” Sunny said. “Wherever I was at that sold toys, I would try to pick up a couple so I wasn’t doing a big shopping trip last minute.”

Sunny shopped for toys with 12-year-old daughter, Ariana and five-year-old son, Landyn – whose gifts were already bought. Lieutenant Amber directed Sunny to buy a variety of toys for various age groups.

“(The Salvation Army) had a lot of families to support – I was amazed at what all they did,” Sunny said.

The family also donated clothes and toys from their home in Ford City to local non-profits.

Families were able to pick up donations Tuesday until 4PM.

Lieutenant Amber was grateful to all the volunteers and local community support for the toy distribution success, as well as helping the Salvation Army reach its Red Kettle campaign goal of $25,000.