Friday, June 14, 2024

Rotary Club of Latrobe asks for help after devastating fire at shopping plaza

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LATROBE, Pa. (KDKA) — A program dedicated to serving children in need has been put on hold temporarily after a devastating fire cost it thousands of dollars worth of inventory.

The Rotary Club of Latrobe has been working for nearly a decade to provide meals to local students who may not otherwise have one.

“This is the need we see. We see the kids coming back to school on Monday saying that they’re hungry,” said John Watson, president of The Rotary Club of Latrobe.

Its storefront was damaged on Tuesday after a fire tore through it and several neighboring businesses at the Latrobe 30 Shoppes off Route 30.

“The program is meant to help with food insecurity for children in grade schools,” Watson said.

Watson said each week it packs between 200 to 220 meals to be distributed to students at the Greater Latrobe and Derry Area school districts for children in kindergarten to sixth grade.

“We are funded through all charitable donations that come through corporations, area businesses and a lot of people around the area. We have volunteers that come in every Wednesday from area churches. They’ll send ladies, mostly ladies, and men in every Wednesday for about two hours and they help us pack all the food for the the kids. We put it in totes and off it goes to the schools. We do that every week of the year,” Watson said.

He said the club lost around $8,000 in food due to the fire. That food was enough for four to five weeks of inventory and was meant to get students through the rest of the school year.

Watson said students missed their meal this week, but the club is now working to ensure that they won’t miss another.

“We’re working at figuring out exactly what we need for the rest of the year so that we can purchase the balance of that food and make sure that we don’t miss any more,” Watson said.

He said the club is working out of a temporary space and is working to collect donations to get the food needed for meals for the next few weeks.

“We were very, very fortunate that the fire didn’t really cause any real damage to any of our other supplies: tables, totes that we use, any other supplies that we use. It’s just the food parts that we’re not able to use going forward,” Watson said.

If you’d like to help, Watson said monetary donations are best.

“They can do it two ways. They would be made out to the Rotary Club of Latrobe PO Box 891 Latrobe, PA. Or, if they wish, they can make a donation to the Latrobe Foundation. And that is 110 Latrobe, PA 15650. The Latrobe Foundation helps us with doing tax-deductible donations if people would like to do it that way,” Watson said.  

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