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Nottoway County church creates 'Shiloh Strong' scholarships to honor victims of fatal van crash

Shiloh Church 2019 van crash victims
Posted at 5:15 AM, Apr 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-09 12:03:33-04

NOTTOWAY COUNTY, Va.-- It's been almost two years since a deadly crash devastated the Nottoway County community.

Four people were killed, and seven others injured after a pickup truck slammed into a Shiloh Baptist Church van in Dinwiddie County.

Now that congregation is hoping a fundraiser will honor those four lives lost. Shiloh Baptist has created "Shiloh Strong Memorial Scholarships,” and they hope to honor four Nottoway County seniors this May at graduation with money to help pay for their education. The hashtag #ShilohStrong flooded social media in the weeks following the accident.

One of the four people killed was longtime Blackstone councilwoman Constance Wynn. Wynn’s daughter, Celeste, says these past two years have been a struggle for her and her family.

"It's still fresh, you know, to me, it's still fresh," Wynn explained. "This past Easter holiday was a struggle for me. My mother loved doing her own Easter outfit for church, like she would create it, come up with an idea and design her own entire Easter outfit."

Wynn describes her mother as a woman of faith, who loved her community and loved teaching students. She taught sixth grade for years, and 36-year-old Wartena Somerville, who was also killed in the crash, was a teacher too.

"We try to deal with it emotionally, but anything positive out of something like this is always a plus," said Wynn, who believes her mom is smiling from above knowing students will be getting financial help to continue their education in her name.

"My mom would be tickled pink," she noted. "As a former educator and wanting to, you know, help students further their education and being a mentor and, you know, a role model. This would be so joyful to her."

But the church needs your help to make these scholarships happen, as fundraising has been hampered by the pandemic.

"Know that you would be supporting and giving back to your community in helping a child he or she who would not be able to pay for books, pay for their meals or something like that," Wynn said.

If you'd like to donate, you can submit tax-deductible donations to Citizens Bank & Trust Company, Shiloh Strong Memorial Scholarship, 126 South Main Street, Blackstone, VA 23824 or Shiloh Baptist Church, Shiloh Strong Memorial Scholarship, PO Box 237, Blackstone, VA 23824.