Veronica Gray never met 19-month-old Emma Lloyd, but when she learned about the child’s tragic death in a Sullivan day care fire, she had to do something.
Gray started a Facebook group titled, “In Remembrance of Emma Lloyd.” In it, she wrote, “This group is to remember the sweet smile and beautiful Emma that so many people loved.”
And Gray, along with Sarah Shepler and Mandy McKee, are planning a March 23 benefit to help the family with funeral and related costs.
“I felt compelled to reach out and help them,” Gray said. “It was weighing heavy on my heart, and I needed to do something for the family.”
Geonna EmmaLea Elizabeth Lloyd died Tuesday morning in a fire at Waterman’s Wonderland Daycare in the 500 block of East Silver Street. She died from smoke inhalation, and the fire was ruled accidental by the state fire marshal.
Her father is George Lloyd of Sullivan, and her mother is Keesha Stewart of Columbus.
The child’s funeral is at 11 a.m. Saturday at Banks and Brust Funeral Home in Sullivan. Visitation is 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. today.
The benefit to help the family with funeral and related expenses is scheduled for March 23, a Sunday, and will include a spaghetti dinner, silent auction, T-shirts and bracelets. It will be at the Sullivan County 4-H Grounds, with the time yet to be set.
There already has been a community outpouring, and people have donated about $1,500, Gray said.
“When something happens in a small community, people need to stick together,” Gray said. She has spoken with George Lloyd, Emma Lloyd’s father, and “he was very appreciative and grateful.”
Those interested in helping with the benefit can call Gray at 812-841-5332. In addition to the benefit, an account has been set up at BMO Harris Bank.
Anyone willing to donate items for the silent auction can take them to her business, Twice is Nice Consignment store on the west side of the Sullivan Square. Items also can be taken to Shear’s Salon next to Gray’s store or PuddyTats tatoo parlor, located just off the square.
As of Thursday night, the Facebook group had 1,100 members. It includes many pictures of the little girl where she can be seen playing in snow, riding a merry-go-round and peacefully sleeping in a small chair.
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or firstname.lastname@example.org