Of all the people who stopped by the Evans City fire hall Sunday to drop off monetary donations, gift cards and other items for the the one that stands out most in firefighter Brett Wagner’s head is a little boy who walked in and handed over a wad of crumpled dollar bills.
“He walked in, came up steps, handed us a roll of money and said ‘I’d like to give this to the family,’” Wagner said.
The youngster departed the station shortly after arriving, but Wagner said the boy’s kindness was emblematic of the day.
“The support we had down there was amazing,” he said.
Evans City firefighters on Sunday welcomed the public to drop off items for Drew Pearce, his wife, Cindy, and children, Brandon, 10, and Casey, 3, at the fire hall. The family lost everything in Friday’s fire, including their vehicle.
Firefighters believe the blaze started in the kitchen of the mobile home, but an official cause for the fire has not yet been determined.
Wagner said residents from as far away as Wexford and Prospect to right in Evans City descended on the fire hall Sunday to drop off donations. He estimated firefighters collected close to $2,000 in cash and gift cards for the family.
“We had to stop counting at one point because we couldn’t keep up,” he said.
Volunteers from the community helped to sort through clothing donations, putting them into bags for individual family members, Wagner said. Boy Scouts from Troup 399 also assisted by carrying donations up and down the stairs to the fire hall, which is located on the second floor of the station.
“They did a phenomenal job,” Wagner said. “We couldn’t have done it without them.”
Besides gift cards and cash, people also dropped off toys, household items and even dog food for Diesel, the family pooch saved from the burning mobile home by a local mail carrier.
Wagner said the bulk of the donations would be put in storage lockers a friend of Drew Pearce has rented for the family in Zelienople. The family currently is staying with Drew Pearce’s parents in Renfrew until they find a permanent residence, Wagner said.
For those who hoped to donate bigger items, such as furniture, to the family, Wagner said he wrote down their contact information Sunday so the Pearce family could get in touch with them once they find a new place to live.
He described Drew and Cindy Pearce, who stopped by the fire hall later Sunday to pick up some of the items, as overwhelmed by gratitude at the donations.
“It was just amazing to see the stuff that came in. It was touching,” Wagner said. “They were very touched by it.”
For those who didn’t get to the fire hall Sunday, there are more opportunities to donate to the Pearce family.
Lorre Adams, whose son, Jacob, is a Boy Scout with Brandon Pearce, has set up a donation site through gofundme.com to benefit the family. Adams, one of the volunteers at Sunday collection, noted the Peace family’s mobile home was not covered by insurance.
“I started the online donations as a way to keep things going,” she said. “Sunday was a one day thing and I thought this was a way to reach a lot of people.
Adams said she is posting flyers throughout the Evans City community to spread the word about the donation site. Evans City Elementary, where Brandon is a student, also has agreed to send out the flyers, Adams said.
“All the teachers know Brandon,” Adams said. “Between the Cub Scouts, the firefighters and the Evans City community in general, it’s nice to see people come forward and help.”
As of Tuesday, $470 has been raised through the site for the family. Donations may be made on the site through credit or debit card.
To view the page, or to make a donation, click here.