In the weeks following the Amish schoolhouse shooting in Lancaster in October, contributions and donations for the families of the young victims have flooded the quaint community.
Friends of the shooter's family are not forgetting his loved ones around the holidays as well, preparing an event to benefit the widow and three young children of Charles Carl Roberts IV.
Tiffany Bleacher, of Quarryville, who has known Roberts and his widow, Marie, for almost 15 years, said Marie Roberts is coping with the tragedy on a day -to-day basis.
"I've been speaking with her mother," Bleacher said. "She has her good days and her bad days. She's getting through the days as best she can."
Bleacher and a friend, Aliah Ammon, of Parkesburg, are preparing "The Tree of Love" event to benefit Marie Roberts and her three children, ages 7, 5 and 18 months.
"I just wanted to help Marie and her kids through the holiday season," Bleacher said. "This is the first Christmas for her without her husband and the kids without their father, so I wanted to do anything to make it a little easier."
On Oct. 2, Charles Carl Roberts IV stormed the one-room West Nickel Mines Amish School in Bart and shot 10 young girls between 6 and 13 years old before killing himself. Five of the girls died.
"It has to be hard for anybody," said Ammon. "She's now a single mother with three small children."
"The Tree of Love" event is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 9 from noon until 4 p.m. at the Bart Fire Hall on Furnace Road in Bart Township.
Bleacher and Ammon are asking people to donate gift cards, gift certificates and Christmas cards to hang on a Christmas tree as decorations. Bleacher said the tree, complete with cards will be brought to the Roberts" home after the event.
"I thought it would be helpful for her because she can use the gift cards or the gift certificates however she wants," Bleacher said. "Marie doesn't work. Charlie was the bread-winner, so they went from one income to zero income. It's just hard for her to do everything."
Bleacher and Ammon are also telling people that no donations will be refused.
"If somebody feels they need to donate something else, it will not be turned down," Ammon said. We're trying to put the news out as much as we can."
Bleacher added that the Lancaster Harley Davidson Motorcycle Club will also have a fundraising drive on the same day for the Roberts family. The club held a similar drive for the Amish families and raised almost $40,000.
Bleacher also said that anyone who won't be able to make it on Dec. 9 can mail donations to "Tree of Love, c/o Tiffany Bleacher, P.O. Box 282, Quarryville, PA 17566.
"There have been charities and fundraisers for the families, but I think the big thing around the holidays is doing things for the kids," Bleacher said.
"It's just going to be great to see the tree," she added. "The gift cards and the gift certificates are going to be the tree decorations, and that will be the family's Christmas tree."