Fundraisers planned for families affected by house fires in Mt. Pleasant and Cecil townships

February 27, 2014
Margaret (Peggy) Pelc, who died in a Cecil Township house fire Wednesday morning, stands with her son Jason in this undated family photo.

Separate fundraisers are being planned for the two Washington County families who lost their homes during fires this week, including one that killed a Cecil Township woman.

Friends of the Pelc family have started an online donation site to support them after their Cecil Township home was destroyed by fire and Margaret “Peggy” Pelc died in the blaze early Wednesday morning.

Pelc's 33-year-old son, Jason, said the family is being comforted by the community's support and reliving memories of their mother. He said she was an avid hockey fan and passionately cheered for him as he played at Canon-McMillan and Kent State, even giving him some coaching critiques during the game.

“She was a wonderful woman,” Jason Pelc said of his mother. “She was a fighter. She battled cancer. She battled a stroke. She was a tough woman.”

Pelc's brother, Geoffrey, suffered severe burns to his arms and back, but is listed in good condition at UPMC-Mercy hospital. Their father, Stephen, was working and not home at the time of the blaze.

A website at was launched after the fire and has raised nearly $4,000 for the family. A comic living in Ohio, who is friends with the family, pledged to give them all of the proceeds from his Saturday night show at Reddstone in Cleveland.

Jason Pelc said he has received countless calls supporting his family as he's tried to act as a buffer for his father, who is staying with family in Brookline.

“There's been such an outpouring of love. Everyone wants to send their love,” Pelc said. “I never thought everybody would've gone out of their way to give their thoughts and prayers. It's certainly welcome.”

The Cecil Township blaze happened a little more than 24 hours after fire destroyed a Mt. Pleasant Township home.

Friends and family of Harold Purdy, a longtime McDonald police officer, are organizing a spaghetti dinner fundraiser to help with the loss of his home early Tuesday.

Jason Dhans, who is a Midway volunteer firefighter and has known Purdy for years, said they are planning the spaghetti dinner from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 30 in Mt. Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department in Hickory. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door. Kids 8 years old or younger eat free.

“Their family is very happy and surprised about how quickly it's coming together,” Dhans said. “It's unbelievable. We have so much help. It's getting big.”

A Facebook page to help the family created the day after the fire has nearly 1,000 “likes” so far. Dhans said people can go to that site to offer support, and also pointed to three ways to donate.

Anyone wishing to make a cash donation can send it to McDonald Police Department at 151 School St., McDonald, PA 15057, the attention of Chief Mark Dorsey. People who want to make cash donations to the spaghetti dinner fundraiser can call Lois Nimial at 412-296-9521. Any food donations for the dinner can be sent to Dhans' restaurant, Knuckleheads Pizza, at 216 Dickson St. in Midway, or arranged by calling him at 724-747-8571.

Mike Jones has been a news reporter since 2005, covering crime, state and municipal government, education and energy. In addition to working at the Observer-Reporter, he also has spent time at the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail and He holds a journalism degree from West Virginia University.

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