Penns Valley

Community steps up to help Potter Township family whose house was destroyed in blaze

After a Potter Township family with two young children lost their house in a fire Wednesday evening, community members are pitching in to help by coordinating donations and setting up fundraisers.

The house at 147 Mountain Spring Lane caught fire around 6:50 p.m. and was full involved when firefighters reached the scene. Firefighters spent an hour in sub-zero temperatures battling the blaze, which drew companies from Boalsburg, Pleasant Gap, Centre Hall, Gregg Township, Millheim and Mifflin County. Centre Hall Assistant Fire Chief Brian Tice said the house was a total loss.

Tracy Rigg, one of the owners of Seven Mountains Wine Cellars, which is located at 324 Decker Valley Road in Potter Township, near the destroyed house, and her sister Jodi Reed are collecting donations of any kind for the displaced family, who are family friends of theirs.

The couple grew up in the Centre County area and are now staying with family, Rigg said.

They have designated donation drop off stations at the winery in Potter Township, Seven Mountains Wine Bar in Boalsburg, Rigg’s house in Snow Shoe and Reed’s house in Centre Hall. To get in touch with either, message them over Facebook or email Rigg at tracy@sevenmountainswinecellars.com.

Since putting out the call for donations, the sisters have received hundreds of responses from people wanting to help. They are collecting clothing, household items, baby items for the two children — who are 2 years and 18 months old — toiletries, food and toys for the dog and plastic totes to store items in.

Clothing sizes the sisters are collecting for the mother and father are men’s size large shirts, size 32 pants, size 11 shoes, women’s clothing size small or medium and size 8 shoes. For the kids, they are collecting size 18 months and 3T and size 4 or 5 diapers.

Rigg said that since they have received an overwhelming amount of clothing, people can also donate gift cards to local restaurants or gas stations.

For the sisters, the collection efforts also have a personal side to them.

“The thing that prompted me to do it, in 2014 I had my own house fire, and I lost everything, and my husband died in the fire,” Reed said. “And people really helped me — helped me get back on my feet. I couldn’t have done it without the help of the community.”

That 2014 house fire in Howard Township displaced Reed and her three young children, but the community put together a spaghetti dinner fundraiser, clothing donations and an online fundraiser for the family.

Reed said that in the immediate aftermath of the fire, she didn’t know all the work that was happening behind the scenes to help her family.

“But now that I know, I just knew that (organizing donations) was what we needed to do” for this family, she said.

Reed said she spent almost an hour in the frigid temperatures Wednesday night helping neighbors look for the family’s black German shepherd, who escaped after the fire started. They eventually found the dog, cold but unharmed, she said.

“We’re just thanking everyone, thanking all the firefighters who were out there last night,” she said.

A Gofundme was set up Thursday to raise money for the family, who had just bought the house on Mountain Spring Lane two years ago. In just one day, the campaign raised $1,555 of its $2,000 goal.

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