After losing a home and all its belongings to a fire, starting over is much easier said than done.. It can take families years to return to a sense of normalcy many take for granted. Many of those who lose their homes remain without the simplest of household items like their own clothes, toiletry items and a bed.
So when the students at Oak Creek Intermediate learned that their fellow classmate, Dakota Klaproth, had lost everything in the devastation that was the Courtney Fire, they knew they wanted to do something to help. Without be asked or persuaded into an act of kindness the schools leadership class came together to help the 7th grader replace her personal property.
During a leadership meeting the class decided it would use the proceeds from their first school dance to help Klaproth with purchasing new personal belongings.
The money which was normally designated to help finance their 8th grade Catalina trip, would instead be used to help a friend.
After all was said and done the class/school raised more than $1,000 in proceeds to give to Klaproth to help with personal purchases that maybe would have otherwise been overlooked during the rebuilding period.
The motivation to help a fellow students did not end with OCI. In fact the giving spirit was so deeply felt that it even traveled 50 miles south to a small town of Woodlake where students at Woodlake Valley Middle School heard of the tragedy and decided they too would develop a fundraising campaign in order to raise money for Klaproth.
“I asked my students how they would feel if they smelled smoke and went to their home and there was nothing left,” said Dina Haney, an 8th grade math teacher at Woodlake Valley Middle School.
When asked why the school, more than an hour away, wanted to do such a good deed, Haney responded by saying, “because we care.”
“We just want her to know that even though we don’t know her personally we care about her and hope she would be able to replace some of the things she lost, but more importantly that she would understand that she is not alone and her family is not alone,” Haney said.
Combined, the two schools helped raise $1,500 for Klaproth to use for clothes, school supplies and anything she needs to restore her life to as close to normal as possible.
Present at the award ceremony, to help accept the award were Chuck and Sharon Nugent, Dakota’s grandparents , who were deeply moved by the efforts of the school.
“We are all a community and I thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Nugent said after being presented with the check.
Rhiannon Dewey, Klaproth’s eighth grade math and science teacher, helped organize the fundraisers and said she was overtaken by emotion to see so many students and their families coming forward to help a fellow member of the community.
“It was great to see not only the community pull together to support the victims of the fires, but it was also very refreshing to see extra kindness and compassion find its way into our middle school,” Dewey said.