Molly’s owners, patrons rally to support couple
KENNEDYVILLE — Karl and Janet Pritt are learning that the kindness of strangers is more than a cliché.
Patrons of Molly’s Place and the owners of the sporting goods-convenience store-restaurant complex near Kennedyville are pitching in to help the Golts area couple who lost everything but the clothes they were wearing in a Sept. 2 house fire.
Prakash “Chikki” Shajwani, Nitin “Nick” Shajwani and Lori Mason Loller each are matching the $500 in donations collected in gallon jars at their convenience store. This is on top of clothing from their sporting goods store — including jackets, sweatshirts, boots and shoes — that was gifted.
On Saturday, the Pritts went to Molly’s to thank their benefacators in person. Karl, 87, was wearing a purple T-shirt with the sporting goods store’s insignia on the back.
“I’d like to thank them ever so much. We are so grateful for the outpouring of love and help we have received,” said Janet, 79. “They are fine people,” she added.
Janet said what stuck with her the most was that Molly’s proprietors were so generous even though they had never met her or her husband.
“Reinvesting in the community,” Chikki Shajwani said when asked why he was helping the Pritts.
He answered the question with a question: “What’s the sense of having something and not giving back?”
“We’re just doing our part,” Nick Shajwani added.
The Shajwani brothers said they had been fortunate in both their personal and professional lives and wanted to “pay it forward.”
David Sproates, who spent so much time at the Pritts’ home on Lees Chapel Road when he was growing up that he considered himself part of their family, approached Molly’s owners about a week after the fire and asked to put out jars for donations.
He chose Molly’s at the crossroads of state routes 213 and 298 because it is a bustling place and because of the owners’ reputations for “taking care of the community.”
Sproates said he was given the green light “to go for it.”
“I couldn’t sit back and do nothing after they had lost everything,” he said of the couple whom he calls “mom” and “pop.”
Investigators with the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal determined that the fire originated on the front porch. Karl Pritt said a citronella candle he lit to keep away mosquitoes was to blame.
He discovered the fire shortly before 9 o’clock on Sunday night, Sept. 2.
“I looked out the window and seen the flames coming up the front door. When it hit the vinyl siding, it went up fast,” he said.
The Pritts escaped out the back door. Janet remembered that she didn’t even stop to put on shoes.
The house that the Pritts had lived in for 45 years was destroyed and so was everything in it, including Karl’s treasured collection of evangelist Oliver Greene recordings and enough fabric and notions to fill Janet’s two sewing rooms.
Also destroyed was a Cadillac parked near the house. “It was so hot that I couldn’t get close,” Karl said.
He managed to “save” a 2006 pickup, though the truck’s paint melted.
“This is what I salvaged out of the fire, the most important thing,” Janet said, looking at Karl and patting his arm.
They will celebrate their 63rd wedding anniversary next week.
The Pritts, whose property is adjacent to the northeast corner of Millington Wildlife Management Area, said they have not decided if they will rebuild. Temporarily they are living with a daughter near Chestertown.
Janet and Karl Pritt, whose house was destroyed by fire Sept. 2, meet the owners of Molly’s Place on Saturday to thank them for donations of cash and clothing. From left are Brenda Sproates, David Sproates, business owner Nitin “Nick” Shajwani, Janet Pritt, Karl Pritt, Carol Pritt Pletzer and business owner Prakash “Chikki” Shajwani. Not pictured is business owner Lori Mason Loller.