Many children, 2 bus loads of them, whose families on this terrible day had only what they brought to school that day, went to my school. I would see them daily to smile, hug, etc. They were my friends.
Friday afternoon we teachers heard the news during school–sketchy at first, then confirmed to be worse than we could imagine–the apartments where many of our students lived were caught up in a raging fire. At that time there were more than ten fire departments involved. We continued the last period of the day in a bit of shock.
Toward the end of the day, the principal rounded up some of the older students and took them to the library. Then bus time came and we teachers who were on bus duty were instructed to send each and every student from the two busloads affected by the fire to the library. We knew it wasn’t safe for the buses to drop off kiddoes in the area of the fire with no home to go to.
Parents who could be reached were being called, and the adults involved tried to keep some degree of calmness as the students watched a video instead of being loaded onto buses. They weren’t sure what to think, but some suspected a bus breakdown.
Too bad it wasn’t just that. There was no way of knowing which students at that very time were losing their home and all of their possessions.
Then it hit me that teddy bears were in flames — bringing the depth of the loss home to me.
How do you tell a kid their toys just burned up?
I sent an email to a number of friends asking for help. I had a particular concern for the children who not only had no home, but no toys. Many in the community rallied to the cause and brought needed items. I helped deliver my friend Ann’s twin beds to one apartment and a TV to another along with toys to several children.
But it didn’t seem enough. Yet I knew that although what many of us did was only a drop in the bucket, it was enough to help these people get started again on their lives and homes.
Copyright by Hildra Tague. Obtain permission for use online or in print.