GREENVILLE — When Leroy and Betty Jones watched their Fairplain Township home of 41 years burn to the ground the evening of March 5, they lost not only their home and contents inside, but a lifetime of memories they had built in the community together.
It was more than 50 years ago that Leroy Jones had moved to this area from Kentucky to “find a good wife,” and was introduced to Betty, originally of Sidney, who became his soulmate. They settled down together and have since called the greater Greenville area their home.
Now the community they’ve grown to love is being asked to love back, with a benefit to help the couple get back on their feet after their wood stove sparked a fire that destroyed a large part of the life they had built together.
From 4 to 8 p.m. Saturday a benefit featuring live music, refreshments, a silent auction and a 50-50 raffle will be held in the gymnasium of Grattan Academy Charter School with a goal to raise money to help the Jones’ rebuild their life.
The Rev. John Towne and his wife, Jessica, are helping to organize the benefit, as Leroy and Betty are Jessica’s grandparents.
“This has been very hard for them,” Jessica Towne said. “They feel like they’re really out of place.”
Jessica Towne said she is hoping a good turnout at the fundraiser will help bring in enough funds so her grandparents can erect a small modular home on the same property where their house once stood.
“They are very giving people and they would help anybody, whether they knew them or not,” she said. “They’ll give you the shirt off of their back.”
Jessica Towne said with so many family pictures and other irreplaceable items lost in the fire, and with her grandparents not having any insurance, the benefit is a good start toward a light at the end of a dark tunnel.
“This fire, it hit both of them very hard,” she said. “All of their memories were in there.”
According to the Rev. Towne, a cover charge of $5 for ages 12 and older and $3 for ages 6 to 12 will allow those who attend to enjoy the music of bands.
Refreshments at the event will include hot dogs, Polish sausages, barbecue sandwich chips and beverages.
Live bands will include Christian rap artist Icris, Christian hip-hop group Alias, Christian hip-hop artist Matty Striq and Christian rock band The Saviors Army (TSA Band).
The Rev. Towne said several businesses in the greater Greenville area have stepped forward with items for the silent auction, and he now hopes that members of the community will do the same by attending the fundraiser.
According to the Rev. Towne, the last time he held a fundraiser for Toys for Tots, it went very well, and he’s hoping this fundraiser will go equally well for the Leroy and Betty.
“I’m praying that it does well,” he said. “If I can raise money for all of this other stuff, I should be able to raise a decent amount for family. We just want a positive start for them, for a new future.”
For more information, or those looking to help with the benefit, contact the Rev. Towne at (616) 633-4548.