The things they lost in the fire

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First Posted: 12/29/2014

Tony Shelesky of Dickson City was busy getting things ready for Christmas, hoping to make it a special holiday for his two young children, a girl and a boy, since their mother wouldn’t be around to open gifts with them.

Shelesky, a single father and widower, was dealing with all of the same stresses any other parent would experience: Getting gifts, decorating the tree and balancing a job. He was also in the same high spirits that the holiday brings out in everyone — the same as every other parent would experience.

Then, his world turned upside down.

On Dec. 18 — just one week before Christmas — his house burned down. Two weeks later, the community is coming together to help the family rebuild their lives.

“They lost everything. Everything,” shared Diana Bonitz of Scranton.

Diana’s husband, Randy, grew up with Shelesky, and the couple felt compelled to take action.

“As a parent, I felt the need to do something. These young children lost their mother, they lost Christmas and they lost their house. I could only hope someone would be there for me if something as tragic happened to me. The community has to come together and come forward to help this family,” Bonitz said.

Diana’s daughter, Asialena, is a singer/songwriter who helped organize a group of local performers to host a benefit.

“I wanted to do whatever I could to help my father’s lifelong friend get through this terrible tragedy that came so close to the holidays,” Asialena said.

The community is invited to the benefit at Legends Saloon in Dickson City on Sunday, Jan. 4.

“Legends has been wonderful with helping this benefit come together so quickly. They’re allowing us to charge a $10 entry fee that will all go to the family, chance off raffle baskets for additional money and they are even donating ten percent of their food sales during the benefit to the family. It’s amazing to see the community come together when someone needs help. It’s a testament to the type of people in NEPA,” Diana said.

Whether you attend for a good time or to show your support for a member of the community, your presence will help a family rebuild all the things they lost in the fire.