Local 22 firefighters spread the love at luncheon

Peg Harmer (left) dances with Timothy Bjerring with Cadet 186 during the annual widos luncheon at Local 22. Peg lost her husband Bill Harmer, who was once a pilot on a fire boat. (Maria Pouchnikova)

International Association of Firefighters Local 22 last week welcomed dozens of widows for a pre-Thanksgiving lunch and a lot more.

Meanwhile, Holme Circle resident Kathy Perpetua made sure the widows’ fund was replenished by donating $2,650 in proceeds from the sales of her handmade rosary beads.

Perpetua and her husband, Tony, a retired Philadelphia firefighter, thanked everyone who bought rosaries or made donations. They sold the rosaries this year at craft fairs at Nazareth Academy, Father Judge, Holy Ghost Prep, Christ the King and the United German Hungarian Club and even on the beach during a vacation in Aruba. The New Boulevard Diner again held a raffle for a dinner for two, giving $150 to the cause.

In addition to last week’s donation, the Perpetuas previously gave $500 to Patrick Nally, a Philadelphia firefighter seriously injured in the line of duty earlier this year.

This is the second year in a row that the couple exceeded $3,000. In 2011, $2,235 went to the widows’ fund and $800 to the family of a firefighter who died of cancer.

The 15th annual luncheon took place Nov. 20 at the union hall at Fifth and Willow streets.

The afternoon included a buffet lunch, cake, ice cream, a disc jockey and dancing. Active and retired firefighters volunteered for the day.

The 80 Philadelphia Fire Academy cadets who were off that day all volunteered to participate. They served food, cleared tables and danced with the ladies.

In all, Local 22 provided gift bags and Thanksgiving meals with all the fixings to 125 widows, many of whom live off measly pensions and little or no cost-of-living adjustments.

Cadets carried the goods to the women’s cars, and local fire stations delivered the meals and bags to those unable to attend. ••