A Hamburg home on Columbia Street was destroyed by a fast moving-fire on Monday morning. However, out of the charred remains comes a story of incredible love and compassion.
The three kids who lived in that home attend schools in the Frontier Central School District. Now, teachers and students alike are joining forces to lend a helping hand this holiday season.
Signs of the season of giving are everywhere at Frontier Central Schools. However, the fundraisers and donations are rarely so personal -- especially for classmates of the children who escaped the blaze.
"I said if you gave me money, I'll shave my head," explained Thomas Wrinn, a fourth grader who is in the same class as the youngest family member who lived in the the now charred home.
Wrinn, who goes to Big Tree Elementary, is looking to raise money for his classmate's family. Like any fourth grader, he's a bit nervous.
"I like my hair," Wrinn explained. However, he also says that the cause is much greater. Wrinn was inspired for Bald for Bucks, which raises money for cancer victims.
In the last day, Wrinn has raised $400. His goal was $100. Wrinn plans to shave his head this weekend.
"He lost stuff, so I'm giving him money so he can buy it all back," Wrinn said.
Wrinn's teacher, Peter Phillips, says that the whole class has come together with donations, and that the outpouring of support by the community has been inspiring.
"When the children see it, it really shows the character of the community," Phillips states.
Fundraisers previously planned will now at least in part go to the Cartonia family, who lost everything.
"We'll have a dress down day on Friday, plus teachers will be contributing to monetary gifts," explained the principal of Big Tree Elementary, Joanne Sawiewski.
Over at Frontier Middle School, where two of its students escaped the fire, donations are endless.
"I came in this morning, and what waiting room for our office was full," said Amy Pecoraro, a guidance counselor at the school. Pecoraco says in just a few hours, she made two trips full of donations to neighbors of the victims.
One young student sent her father to help. "I asked him if he could get a gift card for her family using my allowance money," said Elayna Dipqasqua, a sixth grader.
"It's remarkable to see these students and how selfless they are," said Ryan Sikorski, the Principal of Frontier Middle School.
Donations even include offers of furniture and a house for the family to stay in as long as needed.
The Cartonia family, who lost their home, tells 7 Eyewitness News that the, "generosity and outpouring of support has been overwhelming. We are very humbled and feel very blessed by the actions of all family, friends, acquaintances and even people we haven't met."
Friends jump-started much of the fundraising efforts. They are now sorting through piles of donations.
"We're just heartbroken over this tragedy and doing something about it you want to help," said Tracy Peron, a friend of the Cartonia family through Big Tree Elementary.
A GoFundMe page has already raised more than $10,000. To contribute, you can click here.
Frontier Middle School says that if you wish to donate to the family, please call ahead.
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