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Photo: Tim Jimenez | Twitter
In total, 12 people died in the fire on the morning of Jan. 5 in Fairmount. Photo: Tim Jimenez/Twitter

Fundraising and other relief efforts pour in for Fairmount fire victims

The city of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia and a number of other community orgs have chipped in to help.

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In the early hours of Wednesday morning, Jan. 5, the Philadelphia Fire Department responded to a fire coming from the second floor of a three-story row home in the Fairmount section of the city. 

An hour later, firefighters managed to get the fire extinguished, but the incident took the lives of 12 building occupants, including nine children. 

Many of the children living in the row home were students. According to Jerilyn Dressler, president of the Friends of Bache-Martin, two former students and two current students from Bache-Martin Elementary died in the fire.

In response, the School District of Philadelphia is offering counseling and support services for those who may need help coping with this tragedy. Grieving students and faculty will be able to receive support from emotional health professionals from a school-based team of social workers and counselors, as well as aid from external community partners. 

A Friends and Relatives Center was opened by the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Emergency Management with the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army at Bache-Martin. 

Located on N. 22nd & Parrish Street, the center is providing emergency assistance for a family of five displaced from the first floor of yesterday’s fire. Red Cross teams are also available to provide ongoing support for the family of those who lost their lives. 

Additionally, the Fund for the School District of Philadelphia (The Fund) has collaborated with Philadelphia City Council President Darrell Clarke to set up a fund to provide assistance to impacted families. 

Clarke’s office is in communication with the families to find out what support they need and donations collected will be allocated accordingly. Individuals who would like to donate can do so here

The organization Children First has set up a donation form on EveryAction. In its first few hours, it raised $500, and after The Philadelphia Inquirer posted an article featuring the link, the count was $5,000 and it is growing quickly. 

“We don't typically respond to individual family circumstances — our work is focused on the policy arena, changing laws and policy practices so children have better healthcare, education, family security, etc. But the sheer number of children who died in this tragic situation moved us so much that we thought to use our existing fundraising infrastructure and community reputation to collect some money for the families,” the website reads. 

Executive Director Amy Kobeta told Billy Penn that after hearing the news of the tragedy, the staff felt like it was the right thing to do. 

“There’s so much going on in the world right now that we can’t get involved with, you know? We can’t end gun violence. We can’t resolve the budget in one fell swoop,” Kobeta said. “What is a small way that we can step in? This just seemed like a nice way to be able to do that,” Kobeta said. 

There are also several GoFundMe campaigns set up to take donations. One is set up by Andrea Brunson and authorized by “the parents and grandparents of the deceased. 

It says funds will go towards funeral arrangements, and it thanks people for “support and prayers extended to our family as we deal with this overwhelming loss.” It has raised $116,224 as of this writing. 

Another was credited to the North Philly League of Voters, which is an organization that shows up on the campaign finance filings of local candidates. 

“They’re going through pain and suffering. We hope that what we get from this page will comfort them when they come down from this numbness that they’re feeling,” the fundraiser states

“We will continue to work in partnership with other agencies to provide resources to those in need during this very difficult time,” School District spokesperson Monica Lewis said in a press release. 

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