ELKINS, W.Va. — Randolph County Board of Education member Harvey Taylor was busy Monday collecting items for a cake walk and auction, ways for the community to assist a family devastated by a fire that claimed five lives.
An experienced fundraiser, Taylor said he’s confident donations will cover funeral and burial expenses for the Chamberlain family.
An Oct. 28 blaze that trapped the family inside the house claimed the lives of Alan Chamberlain, 29, his three children Isabella Grace Chamberlain, 4, Alanna Faith Chamberlain, 2, and Brianna Hope Chamberlain, 2, and his stepdaughter, Katherine Claire Bolgar, 11.
Chamberlain’s wife and brother remained in critical condition Monday at the West Penn Burn Unit in Pittsburgh.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said a cigarette left on the front porch started the blaze.
The cake walk and auction will be held Saturday at George Ward Elementary School in Mill Creek.
Taylor, who has been raising funds for the last 15 years for families hurt by tragic circumstances, said he received a call from Alan Chamberlain’s employer, Northwest Hardwoods, asking to help the company raise money.
Taylor told MetroNews it will be his largest effort yet, one he hopes can cover the necessary $25,000. “We’re hoping and praying that if everything goes great we can have that paid in full and pay for headstones,” he said.
The Chamberlain Memorial Fund through Citizens Bank at Elkins has already raised about $10,000, Taylor said.
He met with Alan Chamberlain’s mother and sisters Monday. He said they are still in shock.
“My heart really aches for them,” Taylor said.
The community was scheduled to gather for a candlelight vigil Monday night at the Elkins Railroad Depot. Visitation is scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Elkins Church of God, with the funeral set for 6 p.m. Private graveside services will be held at a later date.
Citizens Bank locations in Elkins, Beverly, Parsons and Snowshoe are receiving donations. Those donations can also be mailed to Chamberlain Family Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank of WV, P.O. Box 1519, Elkins, WV 26241. The bank asks the last four digits of the account number, 1045, be placed in the memo line of the check.