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When two young mothers died in an early morning house fire on Jan. 22, they left five young children behind, but not alone.
Summer Boltz, 36, and Katisha “Katie” Williams, 33, died in a fire at Summer’s row house apartment at 316 North 11th Street in Lebanon.
Fortunately, Summer’s three children, ages 11 to 3, and Katie’s two, ages 6 and 4, slept elsewhere that night.
Since then, friends, family, local businesses, and strangers have stepped up to ensure the children are provided for, now and in the years to come.
Two GoFundMe pages are taking donations
If you’re inclined to help the children, two sites have been set up on the popular internet fundraising site, GoFundMe.
Katie Williams’ mom, Debra Williams, and her stepmom, Joelene Davis, have set up a GoFundMe page for Katie’s two children. So far it’s raised over $13,000.
Summer Boltz’s sister, Billi Williams, has set up a GoFundMe page for Summer’s three children, who not only lost their mom, but the roof over their heads and all their possessions. So far it has raised over $58,000.
Quentin Tavern, women’s employer, is hub of fundraising
Katie and Summer worked together at the Quentin Tavern.
The QT’s Facebook page says it is “collecting Gift Cards to various stores to help Summer and Katie’s kids get clothing, food, toys, anything really. We ask you to please help support these children who unexpectedly lost their mothers. Please drop off gift cards to the inside bartender while the tavern is open. We will then split the gift cards evenly between the two families.”
As of Feb. 9, QT Manager Lauren Borges said they had collected about $20,000 in cash contributions and about $10,000 in gift cards.
Borges said plans are also underway for a drive-through Pig Roast and Raffle to benefit the children. It’s scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 28 from noon to 2:00 p.m. at the QT Catering Pavilion, 114 N. Zinn’s Mil Road, Lebanon.
“Tickets go on sale next week [week of Feb. 15],” Borges said. “For a $25 ticket you’ll get a pork and mac & cheese platter and the chance to enter a 50-50 raffle that will also benefit the kids.”
Keener Poultry, Morrissey’s Appliance accepting gift cards
Keener Poultry in the Lebanon Farmers’ Market and Tom B. Morrissey TV & Appliance in Myerstown are accepting gift cards to help the children.
Keener Poultry is owned by Summer Boltz’s father-in-law, Ken Keener.
Joya Morrissey of Morrissey TV & Appliance told LebTown that she’s been receiving a steady stream of clothes, gift cards, and toys at the store.
Gift cards can be dropped off at either business.
Keener Poultry is open only on market days, during market hours: Thursday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., Friday, 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m., and Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Morrissey TV & Appliance is open Monday, Wednesday & Thursday, 9:00 a.m to 8:00 p.m., Tuesday & Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Help from an unexpected place
During an interview for this story, Joya Morrissey of Morrissey TV & Appliance mentioned that she got a call at the store one day from a husband and wife in York County. They had read online about the fire and the children.
It turned out that the woman had become homeless at age 14 when her parents’ home burned down, and she wanted to help the five children.
“She was very emotional,” Morrissey said. “They asked for sizes, genders, all that stuff, for these kids. They said they were going to go shopping that day.”
“They bought all new stuff for these kids,” Morrissey said.
That wasn’t all. “They drove up from York to our store in Myerstown with separate garbage bags for each kid, full of stuff.”
At the couple’s insistence, Morrissey delivered the bags the same day to Ken Keener at Keener Poultry.
Reached by telephone at her York County home, the woman asked that she and her husband not be identified other than “Brenda and Keith,” but confirmed what Joya Morrissey had said.
“I could empathize with what they were going through,” Brenda said of the children. “We had no idea who they were, but I told my husband ‘I know what we’re donating to.'”
She said that she and her husband drove from York with five garbage bags full of winter clothing, toys, and books, dropping them off not only at Morrissey TV & Appliance, but also at the Quentin Tavern.
How to donate to Katie’s and Summer’s children
- The GoFund Me page for Summer Boltz’s children is here.
- The GoFundMe page for Katisha Williams’ children is here.
- Donations can be dropped off at the Quentin Tavern, 81 W. Main Street, Quentin, PA 17083. Phone: 717-272-4700
- Donations can be dropped off at Tom B. Morrissey TV & Appliance, 1190 S. College Street, Myerstown, PA 17067. Phone: 717-628-1731
- Donations can be dropped off at Keener Poultry, located in the Lebanon Farmers’ Market, 35 S. 8th Street, Lebanon, PA 17042. As noted above, the market is only open on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
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