Holly Hill Family Overwhelmed by Donations

Donations piled up at George Washington Elementary Tuesday night for a Holly Hill family left homeless after a fire destroyed their home and possessions .

The way her neighborhood came together in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, Angela Reiling had some idea of what the Levittown is capable of when it comes together, but she still was not prepared for the sight she saw Tuesday night at George Washington Elementary.

"This is so overwhelming," said Reiling, a lifelong Levittown resident. "We were all there for each other after the hurricane, but I've never seen so many people come out for just one family."

From 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., a never-ending line of cars, vans and trucks pulled up to the gymnasium door to drop off clothing, electronics, food and more for the Reilings. The call to action began Friday afternoon, mere hours after the Reilings home on Hawthorne Lane had been destroyed by a fire.

Bristol Township Fire Marshal Kevin Dippolito told Patch.com that the fire is still under investigation, but started in the area of the heater in the bathroom. Angela, her husband and eight children escaped the house uninjured, but they lost one of their dogs. Almost everything that the family spent years collecting and acquiring vanished in one tragic day.

"There were a couple things we managed to salvage from the back bedroom, a few keepsakes, but that's about it," said Reiling. "My brother died five years ago, and I had a necklace with some of his ashes in it. That's gone now."

As firefighters placed the scene under control, the Levittown community had already set wheels in motion to help the Reilings. After Tami Gilson and Sandy Kitchen, members of the George Washington Parent Teacher Organization, received permission from the school administration, they put the word out about the donation drive Friday afternoon.

"We posted it on our Facebook page, and the community did the rest," said Kitchen.

The Reilings are currently staying at a nearby hotel, with their eyes on a couple rental properties. Until then, U-Box-It in Fairless Hills has donated some storage space to the family. A few websites have also been established for cash donations to help the Reilings' recovery efforts. On Sunday, representatives from the Detective Christopher Jones Foundation donated $1,250 to the family.

The Levittown community has stopped at nothing to create a safety net for the Reilings, but the anguish of Friday's tragedy will take some time to heal.

"My one son did not want us to turn on the heat in the hotel room, because he was afraid of another fire," said Reiling. "Yesterday the fire alarm went off at the hotel, and that got everybody really upset."


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