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Support pours in for children whose mom died in fire

Lebanon, Ind. (WISH) – As investigators continue to look into what caused a New Year’s Day house fire that killed a Lebanon mother, community support is pouring in for her three children in ways family members said they never imagined.

“It’s been amazing,” said Juanita Ortiz, the children’s grandmother. Her daughter, 29-year-old Leslie Ann Hawkins, died in the fire. “It’s been truly amazing. A blessing.”

Dee Nicley mentors one of the children. When she heard what happened, she said she knew she had to do something.

“We worried about the kids. We knew that this was going to be just a tragic situation for all of the family involved but especially for the children,” said Nicley.

So she posted and others posted messages on social media.

“We were just inundated with ‘can we help?’ ‘Can we help?’ ‘Can we help?’” she said.

For two weeks, toys, clothes, gift cards and other donations have come in by the box load. Seeing her grandchildren now start to smile again, Ortiz said she’s amazed and blessed.

“Leslie Ann was a beautiful young lady who liked to help people,” said Ortiz. “And I think she would be very grateful with all of the help and support that her children have gotten.”

“That’s part of living in a small community,” said Nicley. “You see a need and you step in and take care of it. This is just one way that Lebanon has really pulled together and shown what a great community they are.”

A family friend has set up a GoFundMe page for donations. Click here for more information. Ortiz said she’s working on transferring monetary donations into a trust fund.