Share This Page

Dinner benefits family of girl killed in fire

What started as a fundraiser for the Grandview Elementary School PTO became a community effort Tuesday to reach out to a grieving family.

"It started out that we wanted to have a spaghetti dinner as a fundraiser for the PTO," said Cheryl Dutch, PTO treasurer. We already had the date and everything set up.

"Then one day I rode past the house, and it just hit me."

That house, a few blocks from the school at 923 Corbet St., was heavily damaged in a Jan. 30 fire that claimed the life of 17-year-old Brandy Horton.

Brandy was a senior at Highlands High School who had attended elementary school at Grandview.

"One look at the house was devastating," Dutch said. "The house, itself, was bad. But to imagine a child in there was just unbearable."

That's when Dutch started calling and text-messaging other PTO board members with the suggestion of turning the spaghetti dinner into a fundraiser for the Horton family.

The PTO members picked up the idea and ran with it.

What followed was a frenzied two weeks of preparations that expanded as the PTO began advertising the event, which was served yesterday evening in the Grandview cafeteria.

"We went from thinking 200 (people) to 1,500 in days," said Liz Thimons, the PTO secretary.

Dutch and Thimons said the PTO cooked 375 pounds of spaghetti and had 20 five-gallon containers of sauce.

What PTO members found gratifying was not only the community members who bought tickets but those who stepped forward with donations.

"We have a wonderful chef from Hoffstot's in Oakmont who cooked all our sauce," Dutch said, referring to Brian Leri of Tarentum. "He has two kids who go to Grandview.

"When he saw the flyer we sent home with the children, he called me and offered to do whatever he could."

Thimons said Leri did all of it on his day off, using the kitchen at Hoffstot's, which also donated about 90 percent of the sauce as well as some pasta.

Grandview parents also donated pasta sauce.

Carolyn Piskor, another Grandview PTO member who works at Oakmont Bakery, paid for and baked several sheet cakes and several dozen cupcakes for dessert. The owners of Oakmont Bakery also donated bread and rolls for the dinner.

But there were still more donations that came in. They ranged from free printing of the tickets by Costello Printing and Graphics in Tarentum to a $1,000 check from John Greco, owner of J.G.'s Tarentum Station Grille and prizes for a Chinese auction from others.

"There was a list of about 50 businesses and every single place donated something," Thimons said.

Tickets for adults were priced at $5 each and $2.50 for children.

Even before the doors opened yesterday afternoon, Dutch said all 500 tickets allotted for take-out orders had been sold and they were expecting plenty of people to buy tickets at the door.

The PTO hoped to raise at least $5,000 for Horten's family to use as it sees fit.

Any leftovers from the dinner were donated to the HOPE Center, a domestic violence shelter in Tarentum.

While getting an event of that size organized meant a lot of work for the PTO members, they seemed to enjoy it.

"Not hard, just time-consuming," Dutch said. "We're doing a lot in a short amount of time. I think we've all had fun doing it."

"Any issues we have with the spaghetti dinner are minimal compared to what they (Horton family) are going through," Thimons said.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.