School, church mourn loss
DANVILLE - Danville Area School District and Reformed Amish Fellowship Church in Tennessee are collecting clothing, household items and monetary donations on behalf of the Dissinger family, who lost three children and their home in a fire Friday near Snydertown.
Danville Superintendent Cheryl Latorre said a letter was drafted and sent home with students to inform parents of Friday's tragedy. Counseling will be available from 9 a.m. to noon today in the
middle school for parents, students, staff and community members, and will continue for students and staff through next week.
"Our staff has come together like a family; we are here to support this family," Latorre said by phone Friday. "The loss of a child is the most devastating thing. It's been an extremely difficult time for everyone."
The 1:20 a.m fire took the lives of 2-year-old Arthur Willis Dissinger, 7-year-old Gavin Arthur Dissinger and 13-year-old Daniel Gage Dissinger.
In the letter, Latorre said middle and high school students were informed Friday and students in kindergarten through fifth grade will be informed on Monday in order for all families to have time to process the news.
The tragedy for Danville Area comes four months after Shamokin Area School District and a Shamokin family had to cope with the loss of a young life in a fire. Melissa "Missy" Pangburn, 13, died in the blaze at her home on Rock Street on Dec. 10.
At Danville, the administrative team and guidance staff have prepared employees to address student needs and concerns, Latorre said. School and other local counselors and area pastors are assisting the students and staff, she said.
The superintendent urged parents to listen to their children and discuss their feelings and reactions to the deaths.
"Sudden death is always painful to understand, and your child may experience signs of stress, such as anxiety, loss of sleep and fear," she wrote in her letter.
Latorre said more information will be sent home with the students about the collection drive Monday.
Bishop declines comment
The Dissingers have ties to the Reformed Amish Fellowship Church in Tennessee. The curator of the church's Facebook page was updated members on the situation Friday.
Joseph Jeffcoat, bishop of the church, declined comment, but provided The News-Item with donation information.
Anyone wishing to send letters or donate items can be mailed to 2473 Old Newport Highway, Sevierville, Tenn., 37876.
Monetary donations can be made payable to MCFCU For Benefit of Dissinger Family, MC Federal Credit Union, 230 Walnut St., Danville 17821, and donations can also be dropped off there for Dissinger Family Aid.
Any physical donations can be dropped off at any MC Federal Credit Union location.