Foundation raises money to help families cope

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Suzanne Resch, right, draws as Haley O’Brien reads off the name of the winner of the Schnetter custom knife — Ashley Sharp. Proceeds from the drawing go to Critters Love Foundation, which benefits children in Lincoln County affected by illness or injury. (Paul Sievers/TWN)

When a family has a child who is ill or injured, or loses a child, there is very little the community can do to help them, though we may badly want to help.

The emotional strength necessary to live with the situation, and the time it takes to heal, are personal and variable. A family’s innermost circle may be able to assist, but what about those who don’t know the family well?

What we can offer, is financial assistance.

Haley O’Brien is one of three local women who recognized this and started the Critter Love Foundation, inspired by the October 2016 fundraiser for Libby kids, Kiye Jenkins and Katherine Lind, both diagnosed with cancer last year.

Along with Machelle Brossman and Kendra Benner, O’Brien started the foundation “to help families in Lincoln County with children who are affected by illness or injury. We are also open to donating to families in other counties in the future, on a case by case basis.”

The foundation’s latest fundraiser was to raffle off a Schnetter knife which was originally donated to the families of Kat and Kiye. The families, overwelmed by the amount of support they had received, donated the knife back to the foundation so that it could be used to raise funds for other families. “We are so thankful” says O’Brien.

O’Brien pauses in between chasing her almost two year old daughter and drawing the raffle to talk about why she was inspired to start the foundation “I was in a bad way last year, I really needed something to focus on and this has been really helpful.”

Her eyes filling with tears, O’Brien says “I lost my son in a car accident a few years ago. He was three.” The foundation is named for her son Carson, known affectionately as ‘Critter’ and it was “a nice way to honor him” which Brossman and Benner were supportive of when O’Brien shared her story.

The raffle raised $540, a sum O’Brien says “is more than we thought we could raise with this. I had thought about $400, so this is really great.”

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