By Joe Beck
FRONT ROYAL -- Fundraising activities to help pay the funeral expenses for a 6-year-old boy have sprung up in the days since his death Saturday in a pedestrian-vehicle accident.
The victim, Ja'Marion Tyreek Dawson, died when a Toyota 4-Runner struck him as he tried to cross South Street across the street from McDonald's. No one was arrested and police said neither speed nor alcohol were factors.
Jason Neale, a spokesman for the Dawson family, said individuals and businesses around the community have been organizing a variety of fundraisers to support the family while funeral arrangements are pending.
Neale said the activities are welcome at a time of deep sorrow for the Dawson family.
"I am very overwhelmed," Neale said of the public reaction. "I would say joy isn't the right word because we're trying to bury a young child, but I would say overwhelmed with everybody's outpouring of love and support.
"There's a lot of people who don't know this family, but they want to give."
Neale said the public is invited to a Celebration of the Life of Ja'Marion Dawson scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at the Miss Florence Smith Memorial Playground at Short and Front streets. The event, hosted by the Front Royal Volunteer Fire Department beauty queens, will include a short service and the sale of blooms for a dollar that will go to Ja'Marion's funeral fund.
Neale said boys attending the celebration are asked to wear red shirts, which was Ja'Marion's favorite color, and girls are asked to wear purple shirts.
The park was a favorite place for Ja'Marion, Neale said, adding, "That was where he played."
Those wishing to contribute money directly can write a check to the Turner Robertshaw Funeral Home and make the memo out to the Dawson funeral fund. The check should be sent to the Turner Robertshaw Funeral Home, 1200 N. Shenandoah Ave., Front Royal, Va., 22630.
A bake sale that will also include hot dogs, soda and chips for sale will be held at Kmart at 465 South St. from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Other businesses participating in fundraising activities include McAlister's Deli at 70 Riverton Commons. Co-owner Steven Ricks said 10 percent of all dine in and carryout sales from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday will go to the Dawson family.
"We do it because we want to be supportive of the community," Ricks said. "We're not looking for publicity or anything."
Neale said Papa John's on North Royal Avenue is selling fundraising cards for $20 each that can be used for discounts on pizza and other menu items. The cards can be used at any Papa John's store, Neale said.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org