Four weeks ago, Crystal Robb and Bob Pitner watched as their North Wales home burned down, along with everything in it. A month later, while still living out of a hotel, a benefit was hosted to raise money to help them rebuild.
The fire couldn't have happened at a worse time. Bob has been unable to work since mid-November due to two separate surgeries, and his girlfriend, Crystal, was 28 weeks pregnant with twins.
Facing a dire circumstance, they began to receive support from residents and businesses, many of whom they didn't even know.
ran a front page article about the fire, and followed up with a second page article about their situation, also adding information where donations could be made.
Word quickly spread through Facebook and other social media outlets, and next thing they knew, a massive effort was underway to help them regain stability and peace of mind.
Kim Bauer, of Towamencin, had learned of their situation through a mutual friend.
"One of my friends that I had met through Scouts had mentioned something to me on Facebook about Crystal and Bob," said Bauer. "We met over coffee, and she told me what had happened. I realized these people really needed some help."
Bauer got in touch with Crystal's mother Ronnie to see what they could do, and their cause was later joined by Kathy Uskuraitis, of Hatfield, who was a longtime friend of Crystal.
Kim created the "Friends of Crystal and Bob" group on Facebook, and the three women combined their efforts to coordinate a benefit held at in Lansdale.
More than 130 people bought tickets for the benefit, which featured live music by Red House, food and drinks, and an impressive amount of door prizes and gift baskets.
By 8:30 p.m., the hall was packed, with many people who really didn't know each other. Some were family, some had heard about it through a mutual friend, and
others had learned about it on Facebook.
"I'd say I know half the people, maybe less," said Pitner.
With such an interesting dynamic, the evening had its share of surprises. One such surprise occurred after the raffle winners were announced.
Ross Brightwell, who was representing the Montgomery County Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Club, stepped to the microphone sporting Steel City colors. As you could probably guess, he was greeted to an avalanche of boos and E-A-G-L-E-S chants.
What was surprising was how quickly the boos turned to applause, and the chants turned to gasps, when Brightwell presented Crystal and Bob with a check for $1,000 from his club.
Additionally, many other local businesses and organizations threw in an array of items for the raffles, ranging from a Hooter's Wing Party, to a weekend getaway at Homewood Suites, courtesy of Jon Ross Kleckner, of Bethlehem.
Other businesses, such as Vinny's Pizzarama in Hatfield, made monetary donations directly to Crystal and Bob.
After the raffles and presentations were over, Red House took over the evening, playing multiple diverse sets of cover songs ranging from the Black Crowes to Creedence Clearwater Revival. The crowd danced and hit tambourines as the light show painted the ceiling and walls.
As the evening began to wind down, and the band packed up their gear, Robert Sperring, singer of Red House, commented on the event.
"We were honored to be out here tonight. It's for a great cause," said Sperring.
Asked if he knew Crystal or Bob, Sperring said, "I didn't actually. It's just the
wonder of Facebook."
Other guests also chimed in.
"No matter what you lose, you always have your friends. That's why I'm here tonight. I love them to death," said Mike Eveland, of Lansdale.
The benefit certainly helped Crystal and Bob, and they both expressed their gratitude for all the help. Still, they are a long way from returning to normal, but the benefit at Marjeane's was only the first.
On March 24, the Texas Roadhouse in Montgomeryville will be hosting an event, where everyone who comes in with a flyer will have 10 percent of their bill donated to Crystal and Bob.
Additionally, Kim Bauer is hosting a baby shower for Crystal at Bethany Bible Fellowship Church in Hatfield on April 30. The benefit is open to anyone who would like to attend.
Mail a donation to Crystal and Bob at P.O. Box 134, Lansdale, PA 19446.
Donations can also be made online through PayPal. Their user ID is firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out the photos in our gallery, and feel free to add your own. Additional photos can be found on the Lansdale Patch Facebook page.