It was important to Amy Hooser that her three daughters attend college some day, but paying for their tuition would have been a tall order for the convenience store employee.
Following Hooser’s death in January, the community has stepped up to try to help make the Vancouver woman’s dream for her girls a reality. Through an online fundraiser, more than 80 people have donated a combined $5,300.
And a memorial event Sunday at the Brickhouse Bar & Grill raised even more for 11-year-old Kati Gilbert, 13-year-old Alana Sahim and 16-year-old Kayla Gilbert. All of the money raised, online and elsewhere, will go into a bank account specifically for college, Hooser’s mother, Gretchen Edwards, said.
“We have been working toward a college nest egg, but we were nowhere near the amount we needed,” Edwards wrote on the online fundraising page “Help Support Amy’s Daughters” at gofundme.com.
Karen Byrne, who organized Sunday’s fundraiser, said she felt drawn to help the family after learning that Hooser, her childhood friend, had been killed. When Byrne was growing up, her father and brother died, and she recalls the Vancouver community supporting her through that difficult time. She wanted to do the same for Hooser’s girls.
How To Help
Donate to the college fund for Amy Hooser’s daughters at: www.gofundme.com/help-support-amys-daughters
According to police, Hooser, 47, was working the morning of Jan. 15 at the Sifton Market convenience store on Fourth Plain Boulevard when she was killed by a man who left her inside and set the building ablaze. She died of smoke inhalation and blunt force head injuries, officials determined.
On Jan. 20, officers arrested Mitchell Heng, a frequent customer at the store, in connection with Hooser’s death. Heng, 21, pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, first-degree arson and first-degree robbery earlier this month and is being held on $2 million bail while he awaits trial.
Since Hooser’s death, community members also have supported her family by attending a public vigil, as well as her memorial service Saturday. On Sunday, more than 50 people turned out for the three-hour fundraiser, which featured entertainment by a group of Irish dancers.
“It’s overwhelming,” Edwards said of the recent community support. “I saw people I haven’t seen in 40 years. It really melted my heart. I was blown away.”
Sunday’s event also collected something else for the girls. Guests were asked to write down the memories they had of Hooser and give them to the family, possibly to be made into a scrapbook, Byrne said.