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Model trains on display to help Ford City food bank

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Louis B. Ruediger | Total Trib Media
Doug Pfeil, 48, and his son Doug Jr., 19, are pictured at their model train display at Appleby Manor Church in Ford City.
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Louis B. Ruediger | Total Trib Media
Doug Pfeil Jr. makes some adjustments to his model train display at Appleby Manor Church in Ford City.
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Louis B. Ruediger | Total Trib Media
Small details are key to the landscapes of the model train displays at the Appleby Manor Church.

An annual train display in Manor is going full steam ahead from Saturday through Thanksgiving to help a Ford City food bank keep its shelved stocked entering the holiday season.

Appleby Manor Memorial Presbyterian Church is hosting its 23rd yearly display of model trains owned by collectors from around the area.

“Come wander through — it’s for the young and old,” said Doug Pfeil, church member and organizer of the event.

The display will be in the church gymnasium and includes 15 model train sets placed within a variety of settings. In one, tiny figures glide on a frozen pond as a locomotive chugs through a wintery scene. Another train winds through farmland, while yet another circles through tunnels in an arid mountainous region dotted with unexpected fairy tale figures that include a miniscule Little Red Riding Hood and Humpty Dumpty.

“Everyone has their own style,” said Walt Marr, a model railroader from Elderton.

He got interested in model railroads when he was about 10 and living in McKeesport. His dad, Charles, had model trains and made many of his own landscapes out of recycled items.

Marr also uses common items to recreate scenes of everyday life. His display at the church depicts a typical Pittsburgh neighborhood from the 1940s. Tiny school children wait for a bus, workmen cut down trees and a wedding gets underway in the scene. New York Central train cars filled with passengers race along the tracks.

“There are a lot of things going on,” he said. “It’s always nice to see the smiles on the young people’s faces as they come in with their parents.”

There is no admission fee to see the displays, but people are asked to donate nonperishable food items, toiletries or money to help the needy served by the food bank at the Ford Memorial United Methodist Church.

“It’s a very good cause. It all goes to the food bank – we keep nothing,” Pfeil said. “Last year, we donated 1,300 pounds of food and almost $900 in cash.

His goal for this year is to surpass those numbers to help the more than 120 families served by the food bank. Knowing he can be a part of helping so many families is what fuels him.

“You strive to get people to come out,” he said.

Brigid Beatty is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-543-1303 or [email protected].

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