Community Helping Families of Church Van Tragedy - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

Community Helping Families of Church Van Tragedy

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Heaven gained three new angels following a church van accident on I-10 last weekend: 58 year old Patricia Baker, 8 year old Maleah Crishon and 11 year old Micah Goldsmith.

Now, the tight knit community of DeFuniak Springs comes together to aid the families affected and bring a little peace through great tragedy.

In the halls students walk through every day stand two simple memorials; just an empty desk, a shining smile, a reminder of loss and a celebration of life.

"Micah, she had a smile that would light up the room. She was always happy, just never had a bad day," said Darlene Paul, Principal of West DeFuniak Elementary

"Maleah was just a great little student. She was never any trouble. She was always trying to please," said Terry Dickey, Principal of Maude Saunders Elementary.

These principals know all too well this is supposed to be an age of innocence, but hand drawn angels and tear stained cards are proof that worldly realities can slip in as children deal with the loss of their friends.

Micah Goldsmith was an 11 year old ball of sunshine at West DeFuniak; a bright spot to her community who earned a fitting celebration.

"At the close of the moment of silence, one little student said, "You know, Ice cream makes everything better" and I said, "You know what? You're right" So we had a round of ice cream and ended with a celebration of Micah," said Paul.

On the eve of 8 year old Maleah Crishon's funeral, the students honor their friend with a silent tribute to a little girl whose voice filled the halls during music class.

"Students in her class wanted to bring her desk up to the front and we were in agreement and we just wanted to show respect for Maleah and her family," said Dickey.

In the wake of tragedy, both schools are reaching out to help these families and the community has stepped up, too, providing food, money, and services.

"This is the last thing that parents or family members need to worry about right to pay for the funeral or what are we going to do," said Paul.

As the steps toward healing begin, helping these families is every bit a reflection of what these two souls would have done here on Earth.

"She had that nurturing side, she always had that need to take care of others," said Paul of Micah.

"She worked to help others and she was a very loving little girl," added Dickey on Meleah.

Their short but meaningful lives are teaching us all a thing or two on how to live our own.

To help, contact Gospel of the Kingdom Church in DeFuniak Springs:

146 Bruce Ave

Defuniak Springs, FL 32435

(850) 892-2100