Lori Hopkins says no one should forget Nicole Bennett's family. A friend of the Bennett family for two years, Hopkins is hosting two fundraisers for Kevin Bennett and his three daughters - Lauren, 10, Emily, 8, and Allie, 16 months old.
The family is grieving following the murder of Nicole Bennett in June.
"I don't want people to forget about this family," Hopkins said. "This is a family that is struggling after an event that no one saw coming. Having Nicole gone so suddenly has really made it difficult for them."
Hopkins is not new to fundraiser planning – a few years ago she helped plan a benefit for the VanSciver family, after two members of the family were killed by a plane that hit their SUV near Georgetown in 2005.
"I saw the community really come together during that benefit and would like to see the same thing for this family," Hopkins said.
The first fundraiser is from 2 to 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29 at several local fire stations. Residents are asked to drop off donations of gift cards or cash.
The family needs food gift cards, clothing gift cards and gas cards. The Bennett girls like Old Navy, but Walmart, Kmart and other gift cards are also appreciated, Hopkins said.
"We are also asking for financial donations to help with health concerns that the Bennetts have and to help pay expenses," Hopkins said. She said there was no life insurance policy for Nicole.
Residents can enjoy live music while dropping off donations to Milton Fire Hall, Millsboro Fire Hall, Gumboro Fire Hall and the Lewes-Rehoboth Fire Hall on Route 24. The event will be broadcast by The Bridge, a Christian radio station.
"This is a live event, so we will have DJs at each fire station," Hopkins said. "The Bennett girls are decorating the donation boxes."
The second fundraiser is sponsored by Grotto Pizza in Long Neck and Milford.
"Grotto is the girls' favorite restaurant," Hopkins said.
Residents are invited to bring a voucher to Grotto on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to have 20 percent of their bill donated to Kevin Bennett and his daughters.
"We live in a world today that people forget about doing good things for other people," Hopkins said. "This is a good family that had a bad thing happen to them. I hope the church community and all residents show up to help. It's what we're supposed to do – help others."
Kevin Bennett is now working full-time, while his mother, Mary, takes care of the three girls. He has hired a nanny who will help out starting in September.
"Kevin has to watch his girls cry every night for their mother," Hopkins said. "He can't start on his grieving process because he has three little girls, and they come first."
Hopkins is working with local car dealers to try and get a better vehicle for the Bennetts as well. She said Kevin can't use the minivan Nicole was driving the night she disappeared because it brings back too many memories. She said she hopes he can trade in that car and another car for a good family car.
She also hopes to work with local restaurants to plan a future benefit for the family.
"Nicole's daughters are her legacy," said Hopkins. "This should never have happened to them."
For more information, to donate or for a Grotto voucher, email Hopkins at Christ1holybible@hotmail.com. If residents would prefer to make an online donation, go to Nicole Bennett’s memorial website at nicolereiserbennett.com.