Southwest Florida rallies around Arcadia family who lost child in fire

After the unimaginable happened for one Southwest Florida family, their community is stepping up to help them.

The Hatcher family not only lost everything in a house fire, they lost a child – 12-year-old Laiellah, and her mother remains hospitalized with burns, not knowing her daughter is gone.

The community is coming together to not just replace their tangible items, but help relieve some stress.

Kristina Hatcher reminisces about her sister Laiellah’s strongest moments, her final moments.

“My mother dragged her out of the house. She didn’t want to leave. She wanted to help her dogs.”

Laiellah ran back inside her burning home to try to rescue her five pets. She nor the animals survived.

Businesses across Southwest Florida want to help and are stepping forward to do so. Walt’s Garage in Punta Gorda is collecting donations. Volunteers will host a benefit car wash Saturday in Arcadia, and nearly a dozen vendors are coming together to host a family fun day fundraiser next weekend.

“Your community loves you and we are here for you,” said Matt Griffin with the Orange Grove Opry.

“To know that your community is behind you in prayers and support, and that you have somebody to turn to, is what this family needs,” said Ashley Beck, co-owner of Beck’s Truckin’ Good BBQ.

The Hatchers are feeling the love.

“I love my small community. I’ve loved that they have come together to help us,” Hatcher said.

“It’s just a little bit of peace. A little bit of peace of mind knowing that we have their back and they are not alone,” Griffin said.

Here are the fundraisers organized so far for the Hatcher family:

Walt’s Garage
Food, clothing, money, furniture drive
Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
208 East Ann Street, Punta Gorda

Car wash fundraiser
Saturday, March 20
9 a.m.
1006 East Oak Street, Arcadia

Family fun day/BBQ
Saturday, March 27
Starts at 1 p.m.
Masks optional
3922 CR 661-A, Arcadia – the Orange Grove Opry
Proceeds benefit the Hatcher family

Reporter:Erika Jackson
Writer:Jackie Winchester
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