IM this article to a friend!

November 26, 2003

A sign of hope for deaf students

From: Auburn Journal, CA - Nov 26, 2003

Contributions pour in to Del Oro to replace stolen fundraising cash

By Stephanie Swanburg Journal Staff Writer

LOOMIS — After $350 was stolen from a classroom at Del Oro High School, one teacher's lesson on the power of the written word has become a tutorial on the generosity of the human spirit.

After a thief took the fundraiser money from Del Oro's deaf and hard of hearing classroom, students were disappointed. The money was earmarked for a field trip to California State University, Northridge, where more than 230 similarly impaired students are mainstreamed onto the college campus. Before the class doubled their fundraising efforts, teacher Kerilynne Rugg decided to let her pupils vent their frustrations in a writing exercise that ended up as a letter to the editor in the Sunday, Nov. 23 edition of the Journal.

"I just wanted to show that the written word has an impact," she said Tuesday. "Well, it sure as heck had an impact."

After the letter was printed, Rugg and her students began receiving letters and monetary donations from community members. Then, Monday morning, she got a call from Fox 40. The story aired that evening, prompting more letters, phone calls and donations Tuesday.

So far, the class has collected more than $2,000 and more sympathetic letters and phone calls than they can count, Rugg said. An auto-glass repair shop in Stockton sent $1,000, while Auburn resident Sally Dawley gave $200. Two separate Bay Area donors sent $350. The television news crew returned Tuesday afternoon to film a second segment on the incident and response.

The community's response has come as a complete shock to the students, Rugg said.

"They're amazed and flabbergasted that so many people care about them," she said. "I had no idea — none — that this would happen."

Freshman Casey Obringer signed animatedly about the outpouring of support.

"I'm really excited," he signed. "Thank you, thank you so much for helping us, for sending money. Just thank you."

Now, thanks to the kindness of strangers, Rugg's students will be able to go on their field trip without having to scramble for funds. What's more, the class can also start thinking about future trips, she said. If there are enough donations left after the class visit to Northridge, a field trip to a deaf and hard of hearing liberal arts college in Washington, D.C., could become a reality.

"I never knew people were so generous," said junior Victor Kuzmenko. "Now I'm going to have a better view of the college I might go to. I want to tell people about my appreciation, how I appreciate their time and that they gave money. It's a lot of help for our program and a great thanksgiving."

Interpreter Lori Paskey grew tearful when she talked about the individuals who came to her class' rescue.

"It makes me believe in people again," she said. "There's no other words. After something like this, you believe in people again. You believe in the human spirit."

© 2003 Gold Country Media