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Fundraiser helps daughters of woman who died at Sifton Market

Multiple efforts help launch college fund for Amy Hooser’s three girls

By , Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
Published:
6 Photos
The Molly Malone Irish Dancers perform Sunday at a memorial fundraiser for the family of Amy Hooser, a Vancouver woman who was killed last month while working at the Sifton Market convenience store. The money will go into a college fund for Hooser's three daughters.
The Molly Malone Irish Dancers perform Sunday at a memorial fundraiser for the family of Amy Hooser, a Vancouver woman who was killed last month while working at the Sifton Market convenience store. The money will go into a college fund for Hooser's three daughters. (Steve Dipaola for the Columbian) Photo Gallery

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.

All three daughters attended the event, wearing T-shirts with their mother’s picture on them. The girls are living with grandparents and receiving support to work through their grief, family members said.

Hooser grew up in Vancouver and attended Fort Vancouver High School. Her mother worked as an elementary school principal in Evergreen Public Schools, and her stepfather, Chris Campbell, helped raised her from about the age of 7.

Byrne remembers Hooser as a brilliant high school student with a big personality.

“She was a whirlwind, a bundle of energy, a roller coaster,” Byrne recalled. Hooser also had a diverse group of friends and “always had time for the underdog.”

Hooser encountered some difficulties after high school, but she became involved in the addiction-recovery community and even found ways to help others, her friends and family said.

“Her adult life wasn’t always easy,” Edwards said. “But she pulled herself out and was a successful member of society. I’m proud of her. … She helped other people. She was a giver.”

Looking around the room Sunday, Campbell said: “It’s nice to see how many people Amy’s life touched.”

Columbian Assistant Metro Editor
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