JERSEY CITY - A fundraiser was held Tuesday for the children of the Jersey City couple that was killed last week when a tornado hit their campground in Virginia.
Lord Balatbat and his wife Lolibeth Ortega were killed when a tree fell on their tent during a storm. The couple's 13-year-old son is in critical condition, but the other two children, ages 6 and 11, were not seriously injured.
George Gabriel says his son went to Sunday school with the couple's teenage son. "They're out there enjoying life and all of a sudden they're dead," he says.
Every July, the Jersey City Youth Foundation raises money for its annual backpack and school supply drive. The drive helps provide thousands of backpacks and supplies to children in Jersey City.
"It's been a horrible two weeks for Jersey city residents," says Mayor Steve Fulop. "One tragedy after another. The one last week was a 13-year-old boy losing both of his parents, so we're a big city but a small community and we pull together."
Veronica Park, head of the JCYF, says half the money raised will help the children, the other half will help buy backpacks for students in need. She says she also has three kids, similar in age to those in the Balatbat family. "I feel honored to be able to share some of the proceeds with whatever the kids are going to need," she says.
The fundraiser was held at the Zeppelin Hall Restaurant and Biergarten.
This year, the JCYF will be donating 50 percent of its proceeds from the event to help the Balatbat children and family.
Gabriel says local Filipino churches have also been raising funds for the family.