$3K—And Counting—Raised for Jefferson Family Displaced By Fire

'To raise as much as we have in three days shows the compassion people have from within our lake community and beyond,' organizer Gene Spaeth said.

Goal exceeded; Thursday afternoon screenshot of fundraising campaign on YouCaring.com
Goal exceeded; Thursday afternoon screenshot of fundraising campaign on YouCaring.com
The grand tradition of people standing up to assist when tragedy befalls neighbors is still in fine fettle in Jefferson Township. An emergency online fund drive launched hours after fire caused significant damage to the Lake Shawnee-area home of Bill O'Hara and Kris Anderson on Monday has more than met its $2,500 goal—with two weeks to go before the campaign's deadline. As of Thursday night, the effort has collected more than $3,100. [Editor's note: As the total of contributions is expected to change after publication, look to the graphic for the up-to-the-minute total of funds raised.]

"The amount of support for Kris and Bill has been incredible," said resident Gene Spaeth, one of the 'Lake Shawnee Neighbors' behind the effort.  "To raise as much as we have in three days shows the compassion people have from within our lake community and beyond."

Beyond, he said, extended as far away as the United Kingdom. 

On Monday, an electrical fire tore through the back end of the Algonquin Terrace home of Bill O'Hara and Kris Anderson. The tragic event authorities ruled an accident destroyed many cherished items, rendered the house uninhabitable—it can be repaired—and took the life of Timbits, the family cat. Not all was lost, however: Two dogs and Liggy the iguana survived the experience. And O'Hara and Anderson were not at home when the blaze occurred. 

In fact, Spaeth said that though he has never met the couple, he and Anderson found out about Monday's fire via social media.

"Many of the residents of the community are part of a Facebook group for Lake Shawnee residents and friends and oftentimes, current events are posted," he explained. "When the fire broke out, it was quickly posted to Facebook, with Kris and several others contributing and learning more by the second.  

"After learning of the street that the house fire was on, Kris posted asking for more details," Spaeth continued. "Her last post indicated that she was panicking and wondering if the fire was at her home.  Unfortunately, it was her home on fire."

He said the outpouring of community support was immediate.

"Being that I have an IT background, I quickly setup a web site, www.lakeshawneehelp.com, and fundraising site on YouCaring," he said. "I wanted to provide a central resource for people to learn what had happened and how to help in an easy format.  YouCaring is great in that it outlines all contributions and allows for people to post comments and words of encouragement.  Being that I also work in accounting, I liked the transparency it provided over a simple PayPal account."

Spaeth said that he will meet with Anderson and O'Hara this weekend to present them the donation check. The funds are intended to assist the couple with immediate expenses and items not covered by insurance.
"Obviously, there is insurance coverage, however, with deductibles and expenses not covered, providing these funds, especially around Christmas, will help them hopefully have as enjoyable a holiday as they can considering their unfortunate circumstances," Spaeth said.

The tech-savvy altruist said that the couple at present "seem to be doing well." Displaced from their home, they are in extended stay housing provided by insurance.  The pets are at the vet for now and doing well.  

"At this point, I am not sure if there are arrangements for Timbits," said Spaeth, referring to the cat that did not survive the fire. 


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