Lakeview community raises thousands for families of students who passed away
It's been a challenging, unprecedented few weeks for one Mercer County town.
The Lakeview Local School District hosted a fundraiser to help the families of four students who recently passed away last month.
The Fall Festival honored 2023 graduate James Harrison of Worth Township; 2024 class members and best friends Aliya Harvey of Jackson Center and Harmony Leige of Mercer; and class of 2026 member AJ Fetty-Coast.
Harrison, Harvey, and Leige died from injuries sustained in a car accident on October 5. Fetty-Coast died of a short illness at UPMC Children's Hospital on October 30th.
"It's a big impact on a small school like this and you can definitely feel it when you come to school and you're walking down the hall," explained Cydney Devereaux, a junior at Lakeview Middle-High School and facilitator of the event.
While the community continues to grapple with the loss of James Harrison, Aliya Harvey, Harmony Leige, and AJ Fetty-Coast, they're now stepping up to take the financial burden off of their families.
"You can never prepare yourself for this," explained Carol Lilly, Principal at Lakeview Middle-High School. "We've seen so much money donations, time, food, and people asking, 'How can we help the kids? What do you need?' It doesn't end."
"Everybody wanted to help," Devereaux added. "All these clubs were asking, 'What do we do? Do we send donations? The Fall Festival was a way to unite that all together into one night."
You could feel the love and support in the school during Wednesday's Fall Festival. From a 50/50 raffle, silent auction, dinner, a haunted house, karaoke and other fun activities for the kiddos, those dollars go back to the four families.
Organizers were able to raise tens of thousands of dollars for the families affected. They will be splitting that money up evenly to help where funds are needed."
"If anything, through all these events, it's just drawn us closer together than ever before," explained Aidan Black, a senior at Lakeview Middle-High School. "And it just shows that it doesn't matter what can happen in this community, we'll always have each other's backs."
Students tell 21 News James, Aliya, Harmony and AJ's light will never dim in the Lakeview community.
"I think it would really make them happy to know they were supported the way that they were," Black said.
Speaking with the families of the students who passed, they told Erin Simonek they're completely overwhelmed with gratitude.
Contact Lakeview Schools if you would like to give to the families during this difficult time at 724-376-7911.