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Brackenridge family honors dad's memory by offering children school supplies

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Sunday, Aug. 23, 2009

Paul Field Jr.'s proclivity for being a pack rat is helping children get ready for the start of classes at the Highlands School District in Allegheny County.

Field, of Brackenridge, was 65 when he died on Oct. 18.

At the Allegheny Valley Salvation Army on Saturday, his family handed out backpacks full of school supplies.

Field, a father of three and grandfather of 12, worked as a laborer at R.I. Lampus, a block company in Springdale.

The event sprang from what Field's family found under his bed after his death.

His daughter, Megan Field, 33, of Harrison said they found boxes of school supplies stowed away. They donated all of it to the Salvation Army, where the family attends church.

"We needed to do something in memory of him. This is perfect," Megan Field said.

In addition, they organized volunteers to offer children haircuts, vision tests, dental exams and police fingerprinting, all in his memory.

"It's a great opportunity for underprivileged kids to get some of the things they need for school," said Christopher Mackneer, a program assistant with the Salvation Army. "We all know the costs for some of these things are a lot."

The family had been planning for yesterday's event since April.

Megan Field drove to Georgia to pick up the 150 backpacks that were given away. It's where her sister, Paula, lives. The backpacks came from an anonymous donor.

The backpacks included items such as paper, crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, notebooks, folders, rules and pencil boxes.

"We just thought there was a need for this," Megan Field said.

Ericka Hayden, 10, of Harrison got a backpack in her favorite color — pink — to start fifth grade at Grandview Elementary.

Shari Rodgers, 27, moved to Tarentum from Monessen just over a year ago.

Her son, Mahadi Aziz, 7, who will enter second grade at Grandview Elementary, got his hair cut, saw a dentist and eye doctor and received a backpack.

"When you have more than one child, it's nice to have something like this," she said. "I never lived in a neighborhood so concerned about kids. It's great."

Field's wife of 40 years, Georgetta Field, 61, said 150 to 200 children registered for the event.

"I feel so good. It went so well. I didn't know it would be such an explosion," she said. "It blossomed from this little idea."

Megan Field said the family wants to hold the event every year.

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