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Community and schools coming together to help DuBois fire victims
By: Deven Clarke
DUBOIS, Pa. More than two weeks after a fire damaged a Clearfield County apartment complex, community members and the schools where some of the victims attend are stepping up to give their fellow classmates and their families a helping hand.
Thirty-five people were displaced when the blaze tore through apartments on East Park Avenue in DuBois on Feb. 8. Many of those victims were students who attend schools in the DuBois Area School District and the principals at those schools said students rallied together to help and show their support for the victims.
"I got a phone call one evening from a mom who said her daughter was really moved by the fact that [the victims] lost everything and wanted to give Barbie dolls to the little girl," said Juniata Elementary School Principal Barbara Jo Smith.
Within days, students started coming together to raise money and find items, like clothes, to donate to the victims, Oklahoma Elementary School Principal Tammy Cook said.
"We started collections, first of all of money, so they could help where they had their most need," Cook said. "Then we had some clothing collections [and] some people went out and purchased new clothes for family members."
It wasn't just the students and staff who offered donations to help the victims, but even the company who takes the schools pictures stepped in to replace those lost in the fire.
"Most people can relate to going through some type of tragedy in their life, or a loved one's life, so they just feel the pain of these people," Cook said. "They just try to help out when they can."
District officials said those students who were affected by the fire, for the most part, have been comfortable letting staff know what things their families need.
"I think our district has a belief that we don't only try to educate the child, we work with the whole student, the whole family, and were a community," Smith said. "We all live and work together."
A special movie fundraiser night has been organized at Juniata Elementary on March 7 and 6 p.m. for the victims. Everyone attending is asked to make a donation.
A state police fire marshal ruled the blaze accidental after a tenant unknowingly placed a blanket over a candle.