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Gary church teaches meaning of giving, donates tithes to family of drowned boys

Bishop AlvCarter Prayer Outreach Church leads congregatiprayer for Smith brothers Gary June 22 2014. | Jim Karczewski/Sun-Times Media

Bishop Alvin Carter of the Prayer Outreach Church leads the congregation in a prayer for the Smith brothers in Gary on June 22, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/Sun-Times Media

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Donations

Those interested in donating to the Smith boys’ funeral can donate to either the “Smith Children of Gary, Ind., Memorial Fund” at any Chase Bank or through the Prayer Outreach Church’s “Smith Family Compassion Fund” at any First Midwest Bank.

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Updated: July 24, 2014 6:20AM



GARY — The afternoon of June 14, Donel and Terrion Smith were sitting on Jalen Nieto’s porch, talking about hunting frogs and snakes and whatever 8 and 9 year-old boys do on long, summer days.

They told Jalen, 11, that they were headed to a construction site, a street over to continue their fun. Jalen’s mom, Quiana Nieto, told Jalen he couldn’t go with them.

By 9 p.m. that evening, the two boys were dead, having drowned in a pond long known in the area just west of I-65 as “The Pit.”

Jalen recounted that day to congregants at Prayer Outreach Church during its Sunday morning services. Helmed by Bishop Alvin Carter, the church dedicated service to the boys and their mother, Tatiana Smith, who’s currently trying to raise money for the boys’ funerals.

Carter was adamant that all tithes collected Sunday would go strictly to the boys’ family. He held an additional prayer service for the family before the regular service as well because that’s what the church is about.

“We’re concerned about the needs of the community, and every dime is allocated for that need and will go back to that family,” Carter said.

“Too many people are wounded by those using the Bible as a platform to hurt and manipulate, but our church stands for the word of Christ, and we don’t care, what color, creed or sexual orientation you are.”

“After that, there’s nothing else you can do.”

Quiana Nieto said that behnd her mother-in-law’s house, the forest is thinned out enough that you can see the pit.

“It’s devastating,” she said as Jalen sat quietly. “They’re just little kids, and to know that they’re not coming back isn’t fair.”

Stacey Williams, 15, has a better idea than most the terror the boys endured. Stacey, who doesn’t know how to swim, has nearly drowned twice.

“My friends thought I was playing, but my muscles gave out on me, and I started to panic,” Stacey, a soon-to-be freshman at Crown Point High School, said, tearing up. “I really wondered if God was telling me it was my time.”

Darnelius Hill, of Gary, was just as interested in helping the Smith family as the church. The founder of Jewel Washer has donated 10,000 bottles of his product to be sold at $5 a pop Monday, the entire proceeds of which will go to the funeral fund.

“We run a youth program, and the kids said we need to sell some detergent for the family,” Hill said. “Now, people can give money and get something tangible in return.”

Hill’s kids will be selling the jewelry wash at 25th and Grant Street, and 34th and Broadway, Monday afternoon.



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