'We Are FR' fund going strong

| Friday, April 18, 2014, 11:54 p.m.

A steak house is an unlikely place for a jump in business on Good Friday, but in Murrysville, diners visited Hoss's on Route 22 in a steady stream.

Like many businesses, groups and individuals throughout the Franklin Regional School District, restaurant managers wanted to support the community after 19 high school students and a security guard were injured in a mass stabbing on April 9.

One 15-year-old male patient remained hospitalized in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Forbes Hospital on Friday. A 15-year-old male patient was upgraded to fair condition and was moved out of the ICU and into a step-down unit.

The response to a call for donations for a Chinese auction raffle was so great that prizes had to be bundled together, with some valued at hundreds of dollars, said Jennifer Dominski, general manager at Hoss's.

More patrons came to the restaurant in two hours on Friday than during the entire afternoon last year, she said. She attributed the increase in business to the fundraiser, which contributes 25 percent of the restaurant's sales to the “We Are FR” fund, which was established to assist victims and their families with costs associated with their injuries.

Dominski said some of the restaurant's employees are students at Franklin Regional.

“We want to support those kids. We want to support the community, and we thought this would be the best way,” she said.

Sandy Devlin of Swissvale, who travels to the restaurant about twice every week with her husband, John, said she appreciates the example such fundraisers are setting for Franklin Regional students.

“Kids do what we do, not what we say, so this is showing them how to go forward ... then if something happens in the future, God forbid, they'll be there for somebody else,” she said.

The Chinese auction will continue from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday with the Murrysville Alliance Church sponsoring the restaurant donations.

By Friday afternoon, $1,000 had been raised through the raffle, Dominski said.

The fund, established at S&T Bank in Murrysville, has received contributions from the sale of hundreds of “FR Strong” T-shirts through Fancy Fox embroidery shop on Route 22.

While she could not provide exact T-shirt numbers or dollar amounts, Chrissy Hanchey said sales are brisk through frproud.webs.com and at the business.

“The phone's been ringing nonstop,” said Hanchey, who on Friday was overseeing student volunteers at a table outside piled high with the gray-and-white T-shirts.

“The kids have been unbelievable. ... I think it's helped them, also,” she said. Some of the students have friends who were injured and have used the time to focus their efforts on something positive and to bond with classmates, she said.

The “We Are FR” fund was set up through several Murrysville elected officials, who could not be reached on Friday. S&T bank declined to give information on the total raised.

Pittsburgh Pirates and Pirates Charities will donate proceeds from the 50/50 raffle during Saturday's game on Saturday versus the Milwaukee Brewers at PNC Park to the “We Are FR” fund. The team and school district are working together to coordinate a Franklin Regional Night at PNC Park at a later date this season, according to a Pirates Charities spokeswoman.

Caitlin Kizielewicz, a 2005 Franklin Regional graduate, wanted alumni who are scattered across the country to be able contribute to their alma mater.

“If people can just click and put in their credit card right then and there, they might be more apt to give than mailing a check,” she said, so she established a webpage through a crowdsourcing page atraisingkarma.com/wearefr.

The fund has raised $450 toward a $1,000 goal to coordinate future presentations by mental health experts to help students cope with the situation, Kizielewicz said.

“I think it's certainly a good start, and I'm glad there now is this opportunity to donate directly online,” she said.

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