Victims of Kennett house fire receive help from community

Firefighters respond to a fire that broke out on New Year’s Eve.
Firefighters respond to a fire that broke out on New Year’s Eve. CHRIS BARBER—DAILY LOCAL NEWS
Firefighters attempt to control a fire in the 200 block of East Linden Street that broke out just a block away from New Year’s festivities on State Street at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
Firefighters attempt to control a fire in the 200 block of East Linden Street that broke out just a block away from New Year’s festivities on State Street at about 10 p.m. on Wednesday. CHRIS BARBER—DAILY LOCAL NEWS

Kennett Square >> A borough family who lost their home to a New Year’s Eve fire is receiving help from their community after a fund was established to help restart their lives.

The fire broke out around 10 p.m. on New Year’s Eve in the 200 block of East Linden Street. Firefighters spent about an hour battling the fire, and in the end Shanté Maxwell and her family had lost nearly everything. Maxwell, her three children and her fiance were able to escape uninjured, though two cats died and another remains missing.

Though the family lost their home, pets and most of their possessions, Maxwell said she felt thankful that her loved ones were able to evacuate the house in time.

“I felt blessed that everyone was able to get out,” Maxwell said. “My children loved their animals. I just really want my family back together.”

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She also thanked the firefighters who responded to her home and the community residents who helped her family in their time of need.

“The fire company got to the house very quick, and some neighbors provided me with blankets to keep warm while I was watching our home burn. I am very thankful to them, and to our neighbors on Broad Street who gave coats and gift cards to my children,” she said.

This week a local community organization, the Joseph & Sarah Carter Community Development Corporation, announced the establishment of a fund that will help the Maxwell family find a new home and start to rebuild a normal life. The Red Cross provided the family with financial assistance to pay for a hotel, but that benefit ran out on Monday. Since then, the family has been scattered in separate homes as they search for a more permanent solution.

“Everything I had is gone – my kids’ Christmas presents, our money, even my ID. We have nothing to start over with,” Maxwell said, noting that she hopes her family will be able to remain in the borough. “It was always my dream to raise kids in Kennett because of the schools, the community support, and not having to worry about shootings and crime.”

Community leaders expressed concern that the fire may affect the education of 12-year-old Jalayshia, who attends Kennett Middle School.

“She’s doing so well in school, and she’s a very strong youth leader in our neighborhood. We need to do all we can to help,” said Theresa Bass, president of the Carter CDC. “I hate to think that this could be a set-back, especially when so many folks care so much in our community.

Donations to assist the Maxwell family can be made to the Carter CDC, PO Box 37, Kennett Square, PA 19348; please designate the “Maxwell Family Fund.” Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. More information can be found at www.cartercdc.org.

Follow Daily Local News staff writer Michael N. Price on Twitter @MikePriceWrites and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/michaelnprice.