Community steps up to help families

WARREN – A bank account was created at Huntington Bank that will allow those wanting to help the families of the six teens who died in Sunday’s traffic accident with the costs of the funeral expenses.

Councilman Bob Dean, who lost a relative, Alexis Cayson, in the accident, worked with Pastor Rick Oaks to set up a bank account – “Gifts for Our Children” – which will help families with expenses. Oaks is a pastor with First United Methodist Church.

Donors can contribute to the account at any Huntington Bank branch.

Dean said an anonymous donor has offered to pay the expenses for each of the accident victims’ cemetery plots. Warren Mayor Doug Franklin said cemetery plots also were offered by the Warren branch of the American Red Cross.

Matthew Baird, owner of Baird Brothers Fine Hardwoods in Canfield, agreed to donate caskets for the accident victims.

“I have five children of my own and when I heard about this horrific accident, I went to City Hall and met with Doug to ask what we could do,” Baird said.

Reuben Gordon, owner of Anointed Publications Inc., is offering to print the funeral programs at no cost. Also known as API, the Youngstown-based printing company prints programs and brochures.

“We have all lost family members and loved ones and know how difficult this time can be,” Gordon said. “We believe our business is a ministry, and offering this service for these families is a small thing that we can do.”

Franklin said he was contacted by Phil Sidoti of the Warren Italian American Festival on Tuesday about making donations.

Also, ministers from around the city met Monday afternoon to determine what they could do to assist the surviving families.

Oaks said that donations for the families may be taken to First United Methodist Church, 309 N. Park Ave., and Greater Apostolic Faith Church, 3571 Tod Ave. N.W.

The Rev. Phillip Shealey of Greater Apostolic Faith Church said four of the six families have relatives that attend his church.

”We know that some of the families are economically challenged, so we will do what we can to help,” he said.

Both Oaks and Shealey said all the donated funds would be deposited into the Huntington Bank account.

Deacons Charles Cullins and Homer Winters from Friendship Baptist Church contributed $500 from the church’s funds to help the families.

Shortly after hearing about the accident, Katrina Rogers of Warren said she knew she had to do something. She walked into the bank as the account was being set up and gave $60.

“I had to do something,” she said. “I have a child. I can only imagine what their parents are going through. It is not much, but I wanted to do something.”