Local school helps family recover after fire destroys their home, belongings

13 News at Six
Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 8:50 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - A Topeka family lost their home and everything in it to a weekend house fire, including their beloved dog.

Christina Gonzales and her three kids left their home in Topeka’s Oakland neighborhood Saturday afternoon for a birthday party.

“Someone called me and said, ‘hey your house is on fire’ and I’m like ‘my house is on fire? I just left from there not too long ago’ and they sent me a picture and it was my house," Gonzales continued saying, “I couldn’t believe it, so we rushed here and by the time we got here the fire was almost out and Hercules, my dog, was on the ground getting CPR from the firefighters.”

She said they took Hercules to the Emergency Animal Clinic, they gave him oxygen, but Tuesday he passed away after sustaining serious brain damage in the fire.

“It really hurts," Gonzales said, “He was like a fifth kid to me. To my kids, he was like their brother. It’s a big, big loss and we’ve had him since he was a puppy. He was only a year old.”

Not only are they grieving the loss of Hercules, she said they now have to start over.

“We lost all the clothes, all the beds, all the birth certificates, everything you name we lost.”

The Gonzales family won’t have to do it alone though.

Quincy Elementary School principal, Katie Sonderegger said, “Once I realized it was one of our families, I reached out to Christina just to ask where they were, if they were safe, how the kids were and just to let her know that we were here whatever she needed we could help her with.”

Sonderegger alerted her staff and donations came pouring in.

“Our number one goal is to give kids what they need, no matter what," she continued saying, “Whether that’s instruction or school supplies or clothes or in this case, a lot more to replace things that were lost in their house fire.”

A gesture that Gonzales said her family appreciates.

“Half of the people I really don’t know," she said, "It’s the Oakland community and I’m really thankful and the Quincy principal, Katie, she really went out of her way to get the kids some shoes, clothes and even bought them some toys and brought a little bit of food by, so I’m very thankful for her too.”

The Gonzales family is currently staying in a hotel thanks to donations collected by Quincy Elementary.

They are still in need of items, like kids clothes and eye glasses.

For those interested in donating money for their hotel expenses or items, you can contact the school at (785) 235-7420.

They need sizes 8 and 10 for the boys, and size 10 for the girl.

The mother is also in need of size medium scrubs for her job.

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