COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - When Kayla Wilson and her sister Nikia, along with Kayla's 6-year-old Denyla Biggers, were killed in a car crash in Coweta County, the tragic news stunned Columbus.
But immediately, the owner, staff and customers of Minnie's Uptown, the popular restaurant where Kayla once worked, fought through the grief and they started doing something: collecting donations to help pay for the overwhelming costs of burying three members of the same family at the same time.
Over at Fairbanks Motors on Victory Drive, carwashes were held to add to the donations.
A gofundme account also raised more than $5,000 in just four days.
Meanwhile, family and friends of 14-year-old Arie Phillips, who held a vigil in Arie's memory last week, are hoping someone, anyone in the community will finally come forward to help identify the driver who struck and killed Arie along Flat Rock Road a few weeks ago, then vanished.
The family is offering a $6,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in Arie's senseless hit and run death.
In an amazing twist of fate, Deandre Biggers, who is Arie's uncle, is also the father of little Denyla Biggers, one of the three I-85 crash victims.
The news of four lives - from two related families - gone in just a matter of days is beyond sad.
As we pray for them, we hope there is some comfort in the fact that our community is stronger than the grief.
When good people step up to help with financial and emotional support, as so many local residents have done in these two tragedies alone, it should make all of us proud to live in such a giving and generous community.