Terra Vista students raise money for teacher of house fire

From left, Jessica Palomo, Feidy Meredith, Andrew Abila, and Jordan Lamb  raise money for the pack the pantry fundraiser. (Photo provided by Janet Gruner)

What would you do if you came home to find your house on fire? Your pets are dead of carbon monoxide poisoning, your belongings are ruined by smoke and you have only the clothes on your back.

If you happen to be a teacher or student at Terra Vista Middle School, you know the teachers and students will pitch in to help get you back on your feet.

Brenda Bass, who teaches Web design and multimedia at TVMS, experienced a home fire on Oct. 21. Her husband, David, had taken their daughter, Jordan, 14, a student at TVMS, to a dental appointment. When they arrived home, smoke was pouring out of the house. David ran in to try to save the family’s two dogs, rabbit and bird, but they were already dead.

The family has homeowners insurance, and it will pay for six months of rent while their home in the 2300 block of 77th Street is remodeled, since the structure was not damaged. But in the short term, the family has need of just about everything: clothes, linens, dishes, electronics, groceries and more.

An Abilene company is cleaning the family’s clothes with a special process, but it will still be a few weeks before they get the clothes back. Because the doors of Britni, 16, and Jordan’s rooms were closed, some items were salvaged from there, but mattresses and furniture were considered a loss.

“Literally, we went to a hotel room that night with just the clothes we had on,” said Brenda.

TVMS students were very concerned about their teacher and classmate and came up with the idea to collect change to “Pack the Pantry” for the Bass family.

“They’ve been amazing. Amazing,” Brenda said of the students. “Even after the food’s gone, those memories (of the students’ kindness) will live on.”

Brenda said students raised $248.35 in change for the family, and teachers at the school raised $975. Britni’s fellow dance troupe members at Lubbock High School raised $200 for the family, and the Lubbock Independent School District television station raised $370. Church members gave the family a shower on Sunday and they received gift cards, towels, sheets, pillows and more.

“It’s just been unbelievable, the amount of support that we’ve been shown,” said Brenda.

She said she would like people to know that if a knob for a burner on a stove turns 360 degrees, they should have it checked out. Her family had lived in their home for 21 years with the same stove. The model of stove was actually discontinued several years ago, but the family did not know there was a problem.

The family feels fortunate the fire started when they were out.

“We’re still saying, ‘This could have happened at night,’ and I don’t think we would have survived,” said Brenda.

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