West York School District making counselors available after student's death

Brandon Addeo
York Dispatch
A memorial stands at 1567 Poplar Terrace in West York, Monday, July 5, 2021. A fire at the home on Saturday claimed the life of Elijah Hawkins, 8. Bill Kalina photo

Grief counselors will be available for West York schoolchildren mourning the loss of a fellow student who died after a house fire this past weekend. 

Elijah Hawkins, 8, died from injuries suffered in a fire Saturday in the 1500 block of West Poplar Terrace that also injured his brother, 6-year-old Evan. Investigators said the blaze was caused by improperly discarded fireworks. 

"Over the weekend, we were saddened to learn of a tragic incident involving one of our West York families that led to the loss of one of our students," district superintendent Todd Davies wrote in a letter to district families. "Our deepest sympathies go out to the family."

More:West York Police identify boy, 8, who died after Saturday fire

The district is hosting counseling sessions at Lincolnway Elementary School, 2625 W Philadelphia St., at these dates and times:

  • Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon
  • Monday  through Thursday, July 15, from 10 a.m. to noon 

Davies said that families can seek additional support by contacting their student's school. Additional resources can be found at the district's guidance counselor webpage, wyasd.org/lway-counselor-page.

Community debrief: Adults can also seek help dealing with Saturday's  fire. 

West York Borough and the Keystone Crisis Intervention Team are hosting a free group crisis intervention session, or GCI for short, at 6 p.m. Friday, according to the borough's Facebook page. The session will be hosted over Zoom, and people can find the link to register on the borough's Facebook page. 

"The GCI assists individuals in beginning to process the disorganization and overwhelm that is created after experiencing a traumatic event," the borough posted. "During a GCI, a group is led by a facilitator through a series of questions using time progression —starting in the past, present and then future. Questions aim to help participants sort through their experience of the event, their reactions and what they continue to hold as a result of the trauma."

The borough stressed that GCI is a one-time intervention and not a substitute for therapy. 

Donation update: As of Wednesday afternoon, a GoFundMe campaign to help the Hawkins family has generated more than $77,000. The campaign's goal is $100,000. People can donate by visiting gofundme.com/f/mev5y-help-the-hawkins-family.

A Facebook page, called "Helping the Hawkins," was also started and has posted updates on the family's needs. 

Items the family still need include: paper products, non-perishable food and drink, storage containers, school supplies and gift cards. The Facebook page says they do not need any more donations of: pots and pans, silverware, furniture, televisions, games, dog crates, blankets and toilet paper.

People can deliver their donations at the West York Borough Police Station, 1381 W. Poplar St.