Sunday was a dark day in Seneca County's history when the unthinkable happened on the west edge of Tiffin. A woman was faced with the loss of her five young children, her boyfriend, her home and her belongings all at the same time in a tragic fire.
The loss Anna Angel has experienced is truly unimaginable. It is impossible to comprehend the situation that has broken hearts locally and across the country. The lives of the surviving family members have been devastated and never will be the same.
But, immediately after the fire, out of the darkness came light. Too many people to count have come together to help the family.
From the passerby and first-responders who did all they could to save the family in an effort to avoid the heart-breaking ending, to the behind-the-scenes personnel who orchestrated the rescue effort and investigation, to school officials who have come together to help students maneuver their way through the grieving process with two empty chairs in two elementary school classrooms, to those who are praying and organizing benefits, everyone has done what they can to help family members during the darkest time of their lives.
It was difficult at times to keep up with The Advertiser-Tribune's Facebook page because so many people were sharing information about how they were stepping up to help. Businesses donated proceeds from their sales, accounts were established and auctions began.
It is phenomenal that donations have come from all 50 states and outside of the United States.
Tuesday, I posted on my personal Facebook page: "Totally overwhelmed by the outpouring of support people are showing the fire victims' families...but I can't say I'm surprised. People around here always step up."
I have seen, time and time again, how Seneca County residents come together to help those in need. This tragedy certainly is not the first time people have come together in unbelievable ways to surround others with love and support, and it surely will not be the last, either.
The belief about helping those in need is embedded in the very heart of this community. And, the level of giving increases when the magnitude of the tragedy grows. What a blessing to see so many come together to wrap this family in love, and I know the outpouring of support will not stop for a long, long time.
A fan on our Facebook page said, "This tragedy has restored my faith in mankind."
Another said, "And people wondered (why) I retired back to Tiffin after being gone for 37 years. This is why. People in Tiffin may disagree on things, but when a tragedy happens, we're one big Family, yes Family with a Capital F! I am so proud of my hometown."
I don't know how anyone can continue going on after experiencing what Angel and other family members have gone through over the past several days.
I do know, though, without a doubt, our community is here to help.
Jill Gosche is The A-T's online editor. Contact her at (419) 448-3247 or firstname.lastname@example.org.