WYOMING — Ellery Davis serves up pizza daily at his Wyoming Avenue restaurant, but Monday was different.
Those who dined on hot pies and other dishes at Maranjo’s Pizza and Italian Eatery were helping support a cause dear to many hearts on the West Side: The Schuyler Avenue Elementary School Parent-Teacher Organization.
It’s reeling from the loss of at least $14,000, allegedly at the hands of former PTO Treasurer Pamela Sue Brady.
Seventy-five percent of the money collected from delivery, take-out and dine-in orders at the restaurant on Monday will go to the PTO.
“I’m involved with the PTO. My kids go to the school,” Davis said. “It was a no-brainer to lend my restaurant to help get the PTO back in good standing.”
That despite the fact that his business has only been in business for five months. It wasn’t immediately known later Monday exactly how much had been raised.
“This is a great opportunity for the community to support a good cause for people who have been victimized,” added server Brittany Murtha. “It’s amazing that the PTO turned something bad into a positive.”
Parents and teachers involved with the PTO also became servers for a day and helped take patrons orders and bring them their food.
“I can’t thank Ellery Davis enough for his generosity,” said PTO president Melissa Adams. “I also have to thank the volunteers for their continued support in these times.”
The PTO’s total deficit could be about $20,000, Adams explained.
“I’m confident that we will be good by the start of the school year,” she said. “We won’t be where we were but it will be enough.”
Brady was arrested last month after what investigators say was a series of thefts over six months. Court records show Brady is free on $5,000 unsecured bail, and that a dispositional hearing on her felony theft charge is set for Aug. 16 before Luzerne County Judge Michael T. Vough.
PTO trustee Melinda Heffron, who was among Monday’s volunteers, recalled the shocking discovery.
“It was after our president got a phone call about a bounced check,” Heffron said. “We thought it was fraud, not our treasurer.”
In an alleged confession to investigators on June 8, Brady said she used forged checks, cash and the PTO’s ATM card for personal use, according to a criminal complaint.
She also allegedly admitted to faking reports to make the group’s account balance seem larger than it really was.
Well-wishers have been chipping in to help the PTO since.
A random donor helped pay for yearbooks for fifth-graders, while driving the cost down to $5 for other students enrolled at Schuyler Avenue Elementary.
The group also is having a fundraiser at the Art n’ Vino Paint and Sip Studio on River Street in Wilkes-Barre on July 23, Heffron said. They are donating 50 percent of the proceeds, and the PTO will also have raffle baskets and baked goods there.
And, of course, there was Davis.
“He was so gracious,” Heffron said. “We will take anything we can get.”
Reach Dan Stokes at 570-991-6389 or on Twitter @ByDanStokes