Pratt firefighters donated toys to fire victim families so at least five cousins had items to play with after losing them to January 25 fire.
It was standing room only around the edges of the family room at 814 S. Taylor, but in the middle of the floor 3-year-old Beau Morris was having the time of his life pulling new toys out of bags and investigating all the goodies brought to his family by Pratt firefighters on Friday afternoon.
Morris, the son of Kristina Bates and grandson of Craig and Karla Bates, was one of several children who survived the January 25 house fire at 211 Austin. The fire claimed the lives of four children and one adult, all members of the Wheatley/Eggleston/Bates family. At least five children were not at the house at the time of the fire, but were regular residents and members of extended family. Their toys were consumed by the fire.
Pratt firefighters, led by Pratt Fire Chief David Kramer, donated all types of toys to the family, to be shared by all the children when they returned home from school, but on Friday, the younger children got first look at the new items, and they were very excited.
Gunner Harrison, 2, son of Lyndsey Eggleston and Sheldon Hayden, spotted a bicycle and though his legs weren't yet long enough to reach the pedals, the smile on his face and his grip on the handle bars showed he knew what to do when placed on the seat.
"The children will enjoy these so much," said grandfather Craig Bates. "We are just so appreciative of everything people have done and are doing to help us through this."
In addition to toy donations from the fire departments of Pratt, the family is in the process of getting a mobile home ready for living and though they already have furniture are needing several items.
"We really could use about 1,000 square feet of carpeting or flooring of some kind," said Sheldon Hayden, partner of Lyndsey Eggelston. "We are also needing a bath tub. One about 54 inches wide and 32 inches deep."
Anyone who can help with those items may call Kyle Hayden, brother of Sheldon, at 316-217-6800.
Hayden said curtains, towels, other home decor items were also needed.
Additionally, collection of clothing and shoes for all adult members of the family affected by the house fire continues. Those needing sizes may contact Paige Kreysman at 620-388-3200.
A community spaghetti dinner has been planned for February 11 at 1 p.m. at the Pratt Municipal Building. All donations will go to the family to help cover funeral expenses.
The Wheatley/Eggleston funeral service has been planned for 11 a.m. Wednesday, February 7, at the First United Methodist Church in Pratt.