SALEM - The recent death of 9-year-old Olivia Thompson has rallied the community around her parents, with a number of fundraisers planned to help them deal with the aftermath of her loss.
"The community has really come together," Salem First United Methodist Church member Janet Keene said Monday.
A member of the church family of Billy and Beth Thompson, Olivia's parents, Keene compiled information about three upcoming events and about two bank accounts set up at Huntington Bank to assist the family with expenses.
She said the family is facing thousands of dollars in expenses related to Olivia's medical care after she was struck by a hit-and-run vehicle in downtown Salem the night of Oct. 19 and then died the next day. Some of those expenses include a medical helicopter flight from Salem Community Hospital to Akron Children's Hospital. There's also the expense of a funeral.
The first fundraising event is Friday evening at the Side Door Tavern on South Broadway Avenue as a celebration of Olivia "Livvy" Thompson's life. With the blessing of Livvy's mother, people are being asked to come and listen to some good live music, celebrate Olivia's life and donate change or dollar bills to help the family. All money will go directly to the family.
On Saturday, a 4-wheel poker run to benefit the Thompsons will be held for $10 per person with registration beginning at noon at the Flying Pig Saloon, 175 N. Ellsworth Avenue, and the last car out at 12:30 p.m.
Stops along the route include the American Legion Post 290 in Columbiana at 44403 state Route 14, then the State Line Tavern at 879 E. Taggart St., East Palestine, the Shale Tavern & Grille, 40964 state Route 154, Lisbon, and Mark's Landing at Guilford Lake, 33220 Charlton St., Lisbon.
The final stop will be the Guilford Lake Grille, 7094 Eastlake Road, Lisbon (Guilford Lake), where participants are being asked to bring a covered dish for a free buffet for participants. There will be entertainment by DJ Terry Krebs of T-N-T Music and a bocci roll off. The bocce party prize package includes food, court time and instruction.
Keene said people can be part of the bocce roll off without being part of the poker run. Keene's employer, Lyle Printing & Publishing, donated the posters for the event which was organized by Christina Helman, a friend of the Thompsons. All proceeds will go to the Thompsons.
The third event is a spaghetti dinner at the Salem Elks Club from 4 to 7 p.m. Dec. 15, with donations accepted instead of charging for the meal. The Salem Elks donated the space and most of the costs of the dinner will be donated. Organizers are Jennifer Hippely and Kelsy Courtright. Hippely's aunt, Amy Toole, who is manager of the Elks, was a neighbor of Beth when she was a child.
The event will include a bake sale and a Chinese and silent auction, with all proceeds going to the Thompsons.
In the area of bank accounts, Keene said Russ Loudon, owner of Stark Memorial, helped the family set up a bank account for donations at Huntington Bank to help with medical and funeral expenses, with Beth and Billy Thompson listed as guardians of the account.
"Our church family wanted to help them in a different way," Keene said.
A second account, the Olivia Sage Thompson Memorial Fund, was set up for donations at Huntington Bank with two members of the church family, Jim Solmon and Elaine Rousseau Kothera, serving as guardians for the account. A restricted fund, the purpose of this is to help the parents move on with their lives, find better housing and improve their standard of living, Keene explained.
"So many people want to help out and right now, financial support is what's really needed," church member Jack Kothera said.
Keene spoke with Beth Thompson about the different fundraisers and said she was "flabbergasted."
"She was just amazed at the outpouring of all these groups to help them," Keene said.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org