Tyeisha Hillary had only worked at the North Trenholm Road Burger King for two months, but in that short time her co-workers had become like family.
So when the north Columbia resident got the unthinkable news on her way to work last week that her 5-month-old son had died, the restaurant was one of her first calls.
Harley Donell Stevens Jr. suffocated under a blanket while he was sleeping early Dec. 23, his grandmother Joanne Hillary said Monday.
The family is struggling to pay for the baby’s burial. So members of the Eau Claire Community Council stepped in, putting out the word and creating a fund to help pay the roughly $600 in remaining burial costs.
Workers at the North Trenholm Burger King are rallying around the family, too.
“We’ve been doing everything that we can,” said Aisha Williams, one of the restaurant managers, who held Harley at the restaurant’s Christmas party just a few days before he died.
“When I found out what happened,” Williams said Monday, “I had to pull over on the side of the road.”
Harley had a twin sister, Harmony, and the two were the youngest of five children. All were being watched by a cousin at the time of the accident.
“The 5-year-old understands,” grandmother Joanne Hillary said. “The 3-year-old is waiting for him to come back so that she can take his Band-Aid off. She thinks that it’s a little scrape.”
Donations to the burial fund are being accepted at any First Citizens Bank branch in the Midlands. The Trenholm Road Burger King also has placed a collection jar at the restaurant for the family and is accepting meals, diapers and other supplies while Hillary is away from work.
“They have been a great, great team for us,” Joanne Hillary said. “As soon as they heard about it, they set it out.”
Leevy’s Funeral Home, Taylor Street Chapel, is in charge of arrangements. A homegoing service for the baby is scheduled for Thursday.
Reach Rantin at (803) 771-8306.