SHEBOYGAN -- Hundreds gathered in Sheboygan on Monday, February 1st to remember three young lives lost after a fire last Tuesday night, January 26th in Sheboygan Falls. As horribly tragic as this story is, there are some who said their grief is tempered somewhat by the knowledge that these three young siblings are together, in a better place.
"To know that they are in heaven with Jesus right now -- they have it 'made in the shade,'" Michael Buehler said.
Eleven-year-old Natalie Martin, 10-year-old Benjamin Martin and seven-year-old Carter Maki died at hospitals after the fire at their home near 5th and Western in Sheboygan Falls.
Fire officials said Natalie Martin got nine-year-old Jenna Martin out of the home, and then went back inside for her other two siblings. Firefighters used thermal imaging technology to find the three siblings in an upstairs bedroom.
Natalie, Benjamin and Carter later died.
"It changes you. It`s changed me. I`m not the same anymore because of this. It`s helped me in my own faith, my own belief in Christ," Buehler said.
"We miss them. Our hearts are broken," Adam Steinbach with Crossroads Community Church in Sheboygan said.
Steinbach is an associate pastor at the church. The children and their parents attended the church regularly and with great enthusiasm.
"We gathered together on Sunday to worship God, and there`s three kids that should`ve been there. They should`ve been running around the halls. They should`ve been playing. Natalie should`ve been joking and telling us different stories. And they weren`t," Steinbach said.
Now, it is up to their loved ones to be wherever they may be needed, as this family to its unfamiliar new reality.
"There will be a core of people that will not let them go, you know? That will continue to support them through, you know, basically, just through friendship and prayer," Buehler said.
A visitation for the children began at 1:30 p.m. at Southside Alliance Church (4321 Co Rd A, Sheboygan) with a memorial service to follow at 6:30 p.m.
Many people have contacted the family and church asking how they can help. If you would like to be put on an email list to be notified of the household needs of the family at a later date, please CLICK HERE to share your name and email address.
A fund has been set up at Associated Bank in Sheboygan by the Maki’s home church for people who wish to provide a donation to help the family. People can make checks payable to “Crossroads Community Church” and “Maki Family” written on an attached note, but please do not write their name on the check memo line. These donations can be dropped off at the Sheboygan Associated Bank location or can be mailed to Crossroads Community Church, PO BOX 1427, Sheboygan, WI 53082-1427. The Maki Family will receive 100% of all funds donated.
CLICK HERE to make a donation through a Go Fund Me account established for the family.
Here are some fundraiser events announced on the Go Fund Me page.
- Culvers in Plymouth
Saturday February 6th from 10:00 a.m.-10:00 p.m. 10% of sales will be donated
- Pizza Ranch in Sheboygan
Wednesday February 10th. 20% of sales from 3:00 p.m.-8:30 p.m. plus tips/cash donations.
- Van Horn Chevy in Plymouth
The entire month of February 5% of all sales from Service and Collision center will be donated.