Students impacted by Eastpoint fire get paired with sponsors, receive clothing, shoes, and school supplies

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EASTPOINT, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -- Seventy-seven students were impacted by the Eastpoint fire and have been left without school supplies or other items they need to go back to class, but the Franklin County community is coming together to get them prepared.

"On December 23rd, 1976, my family stood on our front yard and watched our house burn to ashes. Everything, money, toys, Christmas decorations, was destroyed. So, I honestly understand what the families are feeling."

That's what was written on a letter from a stranger. It explains her passion for helping the fire victims in Eastpoint.

It's been about six weeks since the flames destroyed dozens of homes, leaving families without a place to stay and children without the tools they'd soon need to go back to school, but officials with the Franklin's Promise Coalition say they won't let the tragedy keep kids away from their studies.

"So, we began about three weeks ago with this idea of, kind of restoring normalcy for the fire victims here in Eastpoint and so what's more normal than going back to school?" Franklin's Promise Coalition Executive Director Joe Taylor said.

The organization created a sponsorship program where people, like the woman who wrote the letter, can pick one of the 77 children and give back.

"Our community adopted them and so they bought school clothes, backpacks, shoes, and all the supplies that they need from the shopping list here at the school," Taylor said.

Some of the sponsors dropped their items off at the school, others are taking it one step further.

"This particular lady who adopted this particular little girl wants to follow them into the future, wants to do Christmas with them, and kind of stay connected and so it's really some very touching relationships have developed as a result of the tragedy," Taylor said.

All 77 children have been paired with sponsors and students countywide are also getting some help.

The school district partnered with several organizations to host a Back to School Bash last week.

"Everyone that attended was eligible to receive a free haircut, free health services and screenings, free food items, clothing, and school supplies," Franklin County School District's Superintendent Traci Moses said.

Officials say they'll be helping those impacted students again in the fall to make sure they're prepared for the following semester.