Fundraising account will help Bolivar mother and son

Fundraising account will help Bolivar mother and son

The Huffs even lost their beloved cat, Daphney, due to the fire.


“It happened so quickly,” Elizabeth Huff said. The electrical fire that tore through her home in Wilkshire Hills on May 24 started in a room that serves double duty as a bathroom and laundry room but quickly spread flames to another room and smoke throughout the home.

“I heard a loud noise, like when a transformer blows,” Huff said. “Then I looked in the bathroom and saw sparks coming from the exhaust fan.”

Huff was immediately concerned because the fire was on the side of the house where propane lines connect.

“Mom told me to get out, now,” said Huff’s son, 7-year-old Jayden. “I saw smoke and was really scared.”

Jayden completed first grade at Mineral City Primary School in May. He suffers from attention deficit disorder and also is on the autism spectrum.

Huff has homeowner’s insurance, but things are moving very slowly because the home is owned by her parents, both of whom are in nursing facilities and not able to speak.

“My mom had a massive stroke in September last year,” Huff said. “It was a lot for us to deal with because my mom was the heart of the family. I wish I could call her and ask, ‘What do I do next?’”

Huff said they lost everything. “If the fire didn’t get it, the smoke did,” she said.

Sadly, their cat, Daphney, perished in the smoke.

Huff said she escaped an abusive marriage. “When we moved into this house, it was supposed to be our safe place,” she said. “But when you’re running out of a burning house, it’s not anymore.”

A GoFundMe account has been established and can be found by searching for Jayden and Elizabeth Huff at

When the one who always helps needs help

Huff said she didn’t want to ask for help. “I’ve always been independent, and it’s usually me who is helping someone else. But I’ve never been in a situation like this before, being homeless and losing everything.”

Hotel rooms, daycare and restaurant meals are just a few of the expenses for which ready cash is needed. “The Red Cross could only give us three nights in a hotel,” Huff said. “It cost $250 for us to stay in a hotel for six days. And finding a new home is going to take months.”

Huff said her boyfriend, Josh Gadke, is a huge help, but he lives in Rittman. She and Jayden have been staying at hotels in Orrville because it’s about halfway between Rittman and Berlin, where she works. “It makes it easier for him to help us, but it’s a 40-minute drive one way to work, so gasoline is also a huge expense,” she said.

Huff said Gadke is her rock. “That man is wonderful. There is nothing he wouldn’t do for Jayden and me,” she said.

Some help has already arrived

Jayden’s teacher, Nikki Nazaroff, has given him a huge pile of toys and books. “Jayden is a sweet, hardworking boy, and I’m so proud of everything he accomplished this year,” Nazaroff said.

A neighbor of the Huffs, Emily Altier, organized a donation drop-off at her home and collected clothing and other items.

“We had two freezers filled with about $1,000 worth of food in the garage,” Huff said. “My neighbors, Stephanie and Al Freitag, ran extension cords from their house to keep our freezers going in the garage so we didn't lose that food.”

Huff said she also is grateful to Tricia Martin Adams, Jayden’s bus driver, who donated items for Jayden, as well as Ashley Beitzel, a neighbor who watched over Jayden while the house was on fire. “Ashley was the first person to give me money just a couple hours after the house burned,” Huff said.

Toland-Herzig donated cremation services for Daphney and gave Huff a paw print in clay and clippings of the cat’s hair as mementos. Ferris Chevrolet also sent Huff a check for $300.

Huff said money from the fundraising account will help in many ways. “It’s not necessarily that we’re rebuilding our house. We’re having to rebuild our whole life,” she said.

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