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Police, community step up

The community has pulled together for an area family who lost everything in a house fire on New Year’s Day.

Jenny Parker said her sister, Candace Kitchell, has been overwhelmed with kindness after a fire destroyed all her family’s belongings. 

“…Everybody got out and her fiancé went back in to save the animals,” Parker said. “An officer had to pull him out because he was determined to save every animal they have.”

Parker said fortunately all the kids made it out and they were able to rescue their pets. It was really cold that morning and it took the fire department a few minutes to get there.

“They got it out once they got here. The fire had spread so quickly,” said Parker. “The only room that was burnt was the room it started in and everything else had smoke and water damage. It’s horrible, you can’t get the smell out.”

Parker is amazed at how the community, especially the Leadington Police Department, has helped. She said that it is unbelievable to see the number of donations that have been brought to her house and the police department.

She explained it all started as a post on Facebook to help get clothes for the kids, because when they came to her house they had nothing on.

“The little boys sleep in their undies and that was all they had on,” said Parker. “So that was our main priority at first, but now we are so overwhelmed with clothes that we will actually have some to donate back to other organizations.”

“They are good on clothes now. One couple went to Walmart and bought the kids clothes, shoes and jackets,” said Parker. “It has been amazing. Right now we are trying to figure out what they need still. They have gotten some monetary donations and actually went shopping to get their basic household stuff such as toilet paper and other items that are needed on a daily basis.”

Parker said people have come from all over to help. A lady from as far away as De Soto brought clothes for them. 

Kitchell and her family was able to move into a rental house next door to where they lived before the fire. 

Parker said they went to a rental company to get a stove, refrigerator and a couch, because they needed to have those items. They do hope they can find the items otherwise, since renting is expensive.

Their washing machine froze up and it’s unusable, but they were able to salvage the dryer.

“They had one bed donated to them for their daughter and a TV was also donated,” said Parker. 

She said they are trying to find a set of bunk beds with a full mattress on the bottom and a twin on top because the three boys share a room. Sheets are needed for the beds as well as a table and chairs and rugs for the concrete floors.

“Right now they are using a mattress that someone loaned them, but they are going to need a bed for themselves and dressers.”

They lost their car keys, their cell phone and the Tablets the children got for Christmas. 

“They literally lost everything they just got for Christmas and I know someone in the community was working on giving them a Christmas,” said Parker. “They even lost one of their school Chromebooks and I don’t think they had the insurance on it because it was so expensive.”

“I was not expecting so many to come together and help them,” said Parker. “To see everyone come together the way they have warms my heart. My sister is still in shock and broke down and cried because she can’t believe all the help she got. She is extremely grateful and the kids were able to go to school with coats and everything. They didn’t go long without things they needed.”

Leadington Police Chief Dustin McKinney said they have received call after call and have had people coming in. He added there was one lady who brought in 20 bags of clothing.

“There was someone who wrote a $1,000 check to the family to help buy items they need,” said McKinney. “There have also been smaller donations and a group is coming in to bring Christmas presents this week. We are going to deliver them on Sunday for another round of Christmas since they lost everything in the fire.”

McKinney said this family has been Leadington residents for years and he has known them for years. He said once they posted about the family needing help, it opened the floodgates.

“It has been all-around awesome turnout of people giving back to this family,” said McKinney. “There are four kids: a 14-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son and two 9-year-old twin boys … It has been amazing. I couldn’t be prouder of this community and the things they have been doing.”

Community member Kelly Linck Sellinger donated several items to the family and started to think about the kids and what she could do for them to bring them happiness after the tragedy they experienced.

“I just couldn’t imagine going through what they have and losing their whole Christmas,” said Sellinger. “I want them to know everything is still good even though it was a tragedy. I want them know there are things to still be happy about.”

Sellinger said she was having the donations taken to the Leadington Police Department so everyone knew they could trust where they were taking the donations.

“I have several items that I am giving them and I’m not sure what else has been donated for the Christmas for them,” said Sellinger. “I did ask what things they may like and I’m not sure if the children know we are doing this for them in addition to everything else.”

Anyone interested in making a donation for a Christmas gift or any household item the family may need can drop them off at the Leadington Police Department. For those who would like to make a monetary donation, an account is set up at New Era Bank under Candace Kitchell.

A family lost everything in a New Year's Day house fire and the community has pulled together to help. Pictured from left are Kaylee and Marcus Kitchell and twins Deacon and Dacota Iverson.

A family lost everything in a New Year’s Day house fire and the community has pulled together to help. Pictured from left are Kaylee and Marcus Kitchell and twins Deacon and Dacota Iverson.

A Leadington family was devastated by a house fire on New Year's Day.

A Leadington family was devastated by a house fire on New Year’s Day.

Renee Bronaugh is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-518-3617 or

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