BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - They've lost a daughter and their house was destroyed by Tuesday's explosion, but western New York is still home for the Johnson family of Wilson, and this community is showing a grieving, devastated family what friends and neighbors are all about.
The help includes an effort to salvage cherished memories from a debris field that extends some 300 yards from the ruins of the Johnson home. Generous hearts and helping hands are stepping in to help the family begin to heal after a grievous tragedy.
103.3 THE EDGE radio station passed the hat for the Johnson family at Cruise Night in Gratwick Park in North Tonawanda.
Radio personality Tom Ragan said, "When you consider how much they've lost..."
Perry Ziegler dropped in a-hundred dollar bill.
"These people are struggling," Ziegler said. "They lost everything, a family member and all their belongings, and I just kept thinking how I'd feel."
|>> Full Coverage: See photos of the explosion, the victims, and the vigil. Listen to audio of crews learning of the devastation. Read stories about the community coming together for the Johnson family. And find out how you can help.|
Radio personality Ted Shredd said, "I think we'll be collecting for a couple weeks, you know, this story doesn't go away in a couple days."
Ragan added, "Not only that, but they've lost everything, so I know when you've had a chance to see some of the acutal footage. It gives you an idea of how much was lost."
Friends of the family sifted through the rubble Wednesday, and among other things found a soccer wristband of Katie Johnson, who remains in critical condition.
Katie's best friend, Kaitlyn Bowers, said, "They found it out of everything and he brought it up to me. I'm on my way to the hospital so I'm going to bring it up to her room so that she can see it when she wakes up."
Ida Mae Watters of the First Baptist Church in Wilson said, "I just feel like God has moved people's hearts in a special way for this."
The family already has a room full of clothing donations at the church.
Watters said, "And I think, at this point, the best way to help would be to donate money."
At Coffee Culture on Elmwood and Bryant Street, every penny in sales they make this week will go to the Johnson family. That alone could approach $10,000 by Sunday night.
Customer David Parisi said, "I think it's a great gesture and a really good thing to do."
"People can't really cope with this kind of unexpected thing on their own, so the more help they can get, the better," added customer David Goad.
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