JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - As the family of the three children and their grandmother who were killed in a mobile home fire in Oceanway continue to plan for their funerals, hundreds of members of the community have donated to the family members left behind.
A charity car wash was held Friday at Sei Bella Salon, and hundreds of cars came through. The event raised $3,170, and many people dropped donation items by the location, as well.
The volunteers behind the fundraiser were working very hard and say it's a tight-knit community where everyone has each other's back. They said they're making sure the family does not go through this tragedy alone.
People wanting to help came from all over. Many got their cars washed at the salon blocks away from where the fire was. Others came just to donate or bring cards and much-needed supplies.
"I feel like it will help Hattie and her family," volunteer Amelia Bullard said of the 6-year-old girl who survived the fire.
Hattie Fowler's story touched so many hearts and brought people out Friday.
"It has been crazy busy today," said Sarah Dixon, of the salon.
Volunteers certainly kept busy with a steady stream of cars and trucks.
"Since 9 o'clock, we had people waiting to get in this morning," Dixon said. "We've had people drop by clothes, food, toys. Anything you can think of, we have it for the family."
Funeral expenses donation account at EverBank: 0010021914
Routing No. 063092110
It's not just Oceanway helping out. People all over town are pitching in.
"Someone brought in a brave doll, which is one of the princesses," said Lara McFall, who owns the Growing Tree children's store. "Someone brought a Mickey Mouse and some blankets."
McFall gave her merchandise and got local families to donate items, including Hattie's favorite things.
"All the moms came in, they actually went out shopping this morning and brought in lots of beautiful clothing and toys and shoes and bedding," McFall said. "And it's more than I ever imagined."
The family of the victims said they are still in so much pain and don't want any stuff, they just want their family back. But they said all the donations and community support are certainly helping, especially because they lost everything in the fire.
Hattie was thrilled so many people were bringing her all so much stuff, including about a dozen pairs of new shoes, tons of clothes, toys, books and more.
"There's a lot of love in Oceanway," said Clayton Woods, Hattie's grandfather. "Not only Oceanway, because we had donations that have come from all over town. And we appreciate them for what they are doing. It won't bring back her loved ones, but she did need the stuff. All hers burned in the fire."
"She has not had the time to sit and think about what has happened as of now because she is so overwhelmed with all the new items and things," said Thelma Carter, Hattie's great aunt. "Nothing will ever replace her siblings, but this brings joy to her heart."
The car wash and hair-cut-athon were going strong, bringing much-needed help for a family dealing with such a tragedy.
"To get the community involved in something like this, showing everyone that they are concerned and they really care about what is going on," said Jennifer Jennings, a nursing student.
"It tells us that it doesn't matter what the cause is, everyone will come out and pitch in just to help the needy family," Dixon said.
The family said those who want to help them in any way are welcome to drop by the grandfather's house at 525 New Berlin Road. Their clothing needs are:
- Size 5/6 shirts, size 6 in kids shirts
- Dress size 6x
- Shoe size 13 kids
- Likes pink clothes, Disney stuff, the movie Frozen and earrings
- Size 9 or 10 shorts
- Large shirts
- Size 5.5 shoes
- Size 34 waist pants
- Large shirts
- Size 10 shoes
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