How to help victims of the fire that killed 12 people in Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood

The fire, which began Wednesday morning in Fairmount, left 12 people - including eight children - dead.

Katherine Scott Image
Thursday, January 6, 2022
Community members, group raise funds for families of fire victims
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"It will take more than money to heal this family," said Donna Cooper, executive director of Children First.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As the city and federal investigators returned to Fairmount on Thursday morning, community members looked for ways to help the families of the 12 fire victims.

The fire, which began Wednesday morning, left 12 people - including eight children - dead.

"I knew the kids and stuff. I used to come past here all the time cleaning the blocks up for people around here, and I used to see them out here playing all the time. It makes me really sad, you know," said Robert Wilkins, who rode his bike to the site to pay his respects.

SEE ALSO: What we know about the fire in Philadelphia's Fairmount section that killed 8 children, 4 adults

A memorial now sits with candles, flowers, and balloons, right near the crime scene tape closing the street.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by a cousin to help surviving family members.

Children First, a child advocacy nonprofit on Spring Garden Street, also launched a fundraiser.

"The good thing about us is that we are small, and we're not bureaucratic, and so we can easily make this contribution to this family, the families. We're not keeping any of the money, and we're not making any judgment on how they use the funds. They have to make those decisions for themselves," said Executive Director Donna Cooper.

SEE ALSO: Questions over smoke detectors, occupants linger after deadly Fairmount fire

Word spread, with tens of thousands of dollars being raised through Children First.

Cooper pointed out these funds are needed, that these families lost loved ones and everything they own.

She added that the support must not end here.

"It will take more than money to heal this family, and I think the stepping forward of everybody to show their sympathy and empathy, starts last night, but it has to continue going forward," Cooper said.

The School District of Philadelphia announced on Thursday that it is raising funds for the two families.

"All of our hearts are breaking right now," said Monica Lewis, a schools spokesperson. "The fund is our trusted philanthropic arm and people can be confident to know that whatever donations that they give through that fund will absolutely 100% go to those families impacted by this tragedy."

At least two of the children who died in the fire were students at Bache-Martin School. Three were former students.

"I'm just speechless. My feelings is hurt and I knew no one," said Miesha Dyches of hearing the news of the tragedy.

She came to the area to leave stuffed animals at a growing memorial for the victims of the fire. Her granddaughter, Kasiyah Johnson, came with her. She'd made up her mind that she'd leave her favorite stuffed animals at the memorial as a tribute to the young victims.

"I just wanted to give my stuff away for the little kids," said 8-year-old Kasiyah as she held on to an armful of stuffed animals.