After losing everything, family gets help from 2nd graders
The new home smell at the Raasch family house in rural Caddo County had barely faded when it was replaced with the stench of smoldering ash.
"We awoke to the sound of smoke alarms going off," Dana Raasch told Fox 25. She's referring to the morning of Monday, November 30th, just a couple days after the Thanksgiving weekend ice storm knocked out their power.
"We jumped up and went and grabbed the kiddos with what we had on - just our pajamas - and out the back door we went," she said.
Second-grader Makenzie Raasch looked back to see her home on fire.
"I just saw smoke and lots of flames," she said. "But mom and dad told me it would all be okay."
According to the Raasch family, the fire marshal says it was caused by a faulty space heater. Now, a home built from the ground up by Dana's husband and her sons, is a total loss.
Her daughter, seventh-grader Kyrah, couldn't hold back the tears when talking about that morning.
"That was our home," she said. "We built that, my dad built that with his own two hands and now it's gone."
But it wasn't long before Makenzie and Kyrah's teachers, and Dana's coworkers (she's a teacher's aide at Pioneer Elementary) sprang into action.
They collected more than $600 in a matter of hours.
"For immediate needs like groceries, or if they needed medicine or clothes for the day. They only had the pajamas they were wearing," Makenzie's teacher Liz Mahan said.
And soon after, it was the students who wanted to help. Mahan says she asked her students to each bring five dollars. Kyrah's classmates also signed on to help.
Expecting to raise about $200, they raised more than four times that amount.
"We are truly a family here," Mahan said. "We take care of our own and others."
The Raasch family says it plans to rebuild, but for now they're staying in a friend's cabin. Soon, they'll move into a trailer, donated by an anonymous person connected with Pioneer Elementary.
"We are just so overwhelmed," Dana Raasch said. "Words cannot express how thankful we are."
Now, as a family so used to giving is on the receiving end of the Christmas spirit, Raasch wants to give some advice to anyone who will listen.
"Make sure your smoke detector works," she said. "And if it doesn't find batteries or find something, because that's the only reason we're here."
If you'd like to help, the family has a GoFundMe Page set up in their name.