Donations total $53,000

WARREN – More than $53,000 was raised for the funeral expenses of six teenagers killed in a March 10 single-vehicle accident.

“We were able to pay for all of the expenses that were connected with the funerals,” pastor Rick Oaks, First United Methodist Church, said. “That has never happened before. We were, in the past, able to pay a portion of the funeral expenses.”

Killed in the earlymorning accident on Warren Niles River Road in Howland were Alexis Cayson, 19; Daylan Ray, 15; Brandon A. Murray, 14; Andrique Bennett, 14; Kirklan M. Behner, 15; and Ramone J. White, 15. They were all from Warren.

Oaks believes the difference this time was that the accident and its aftermath were covered by media nationwide, so donations came from all over the country.

There is approximately $5,600 left in the Gifts For Our Children account that was started at Huntington Bank.

“We’re going to keep the account open,” Oaks said. “We’re not collecting more money, but it will be held for any future emergency.”

Oaks said there have been three major incidences involving children in the last two years, referring to two fatal house fires in 2011 and 2012.

“Something will happen again,” he said. “This will provide some initial money to help another family.”

The group of pastors that led the fundraising campaign and distributed the money included Oaks, Phillip Shealey of Greater Apostolic Faith Church, Todd Johnson of Agape Assembly Church, Gena Thornton of Grace AME Church and Dan Barker of Cortland Trinity Baptist Church.

“We just wanted to thank the community for its generosity,” Oaks said.