Fundraiser benefits Jimmy Howell, lone survivor of Riddle house fire
MONROE, Ore. -- Support is pouring in for the lone survivor of the tragic Riddle house fire that killed six people.
The Monroe community came together Friday night for a fundraiser to help Jimmy Howell.
"It’s heartbreaking, it really is, but we have to pull together and make the most of it and help in whatever way we can make the situation better," an organizer said.
The fundraiser at Monroe High School was scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
Jimmy Howell was severely injured in the fire. He was recently released from the hospital and event organizers said they’re hoping the fundraiser will help pay for medical expenses and help Jimmy move forward.
Organizers say the fundraiser featured hundreds of items up for auction with 100 percent of the proceeds going to Jimmy Howell.
It was organized at no cost, running strictly on donations.
Monroe High is Jimmy’s high school alma mater. He moved to Riddle with his family to coach wrestling.
Organizers say they will always take care of one of their own.
"We have over 300 items,” said organizer Jennifer Gamache. “We've had a lot of donations from a lot of local people, even people that don't know the family but are very generous."
Gamache said there’s no set goal they wanted to reach but wouldn’t be surprised if they raised tens of thousands of dollars.
Jimmy Howell’s aunt said the event is about remembering the ones they have lost and helping Jimmy move forward.
"I’ve heard him say, ‘Thank you so much for all you’re doing," said Debra Howell.
Those were Jimmy's words after hearing about the outpouring of community support for the fundraiser.
She said he went to Monroe High School more than 20 years ago and said the community is helping in a big way.
Of those 300 items, a couple of them hold special meaning, including a handcrafted wood table built with recycled trees from Lane County. There are six marks on the side symbolizing the six lives lost in the tragic fire. Another item is a hand-stitched quilt, also up for auction.
But Gamache said she’s hoping Jimmy will take away more than just the proceeds from the event.
"It’s one item that you know … the best thing for us to do is put it out there to auction and get some money for him, but maybe someone will buy it and hand it over to him,” she said. “That would be an amazing gift for him."
Gamache said the fundraiser proceeds will go towards Howell’s medical expenses, which is in addition to a GoFundMe account that's raised more than $49,000 in six weeks, money that Gamache said will help Jimmy move forward.
"I know that he goes to church and God’s going to help him get through it and have an amazing plan for his life."