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Canajoharie, NY ,

Joshua Thomas
Front row, from left, William Cable III, Sheridan Cable and Skylar Frolke. Back, from left, Tyler Frolke, Brianne Frolke and Edward Leon. The St. Johnsville family lost their home in a March 17 fire and were the beneficiaries of Saturday's benefit at the H.C. Smith Benefit Club.

Joshua Thomas
Selling baked goods on Saturday, which they also prepared, were students Helene Blair, Nadine Nellis, and Dakota Scrauser.

Joshua Thomas
The seventh grade students that planned Saturday's benefit for the Frolke family are, from left, Lindsey Dillenbeck, Shaiann Bouck, and Kirk Dannible.

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Seventh grade students hold benefit for Frolke family

Wednesday, May 01, 2013 - Updated: 1:43 AM

By JOSHUA THOMAS

C-S-E Editor

ST. JOHNSVILLE -- The Monday after hearing that their peer Tyler Frolke's New St. house had suffered severe fire damage over the weekend, three of his seventh grade classmates -- Lindsey Dillenbeck, Shaiann Bouck and Kirk Dannible -- mobilized to begin planning a benefit, which took place this past Saturday at the H.C. Smith Benefit Club.

The kids saw an immediate need, and initially planned two different benefits, soon realizing that they should instead hold one big one. The three solicited businesses for donations of food and raffle items, and were happy to find that a large percentage were happy to donate, as Dannible said "they thought it was a good cause."

The fire that displaced the six member family on St. Patrick's Day luckily didn't kill or harm anybody, or any pets, but the blaze --which actually started in the basement and made its way up the front steps into the second story home -- ended up ruining basically all of the family's possessions with smoke or water damage.

They took clothing with them, but found that even after washing off the black soot there was yellow stains underneath. Kind donors have since supplied clothing for the family.

On the day of the fire, lifelong St. Johnsville resident Edward Leon said that he realized something was wrong when the power went out, room to room. He rushed to the front steps to find the hallway engulfed in smoke. He ran to the back steps, which were also engulfed in a smoky haze, too thick, Leon said, even to see light coming in through the window at the bottom. Taking a chance, he rushed down the steps and out of the house, his family right behind him. 

After moving to the front of the residence, the family saw that the flames were shooting out a second story apartment window and licking their neighbor's house, causing damage to the eves and siding. Brianne Frolke quickly ran to her neighbors' door, telling them to "get out, quick."

The fire department's speedy response diverted any more damage to the neighboring house, and the building's downstairs apartment was never touched, but the Frolke family was forced to move. They're now occupying a home on Union St., which the kids like, as they each have their own bedroom there, although the family is currently in a state of limbo, unsure if the home will soon be put up for tax auction. While they hope they're able to stay, Leon said that he hasn't put too much work into the "fixer-upper" property until he's sure the family can call it their permanent home.

In the end, even if the family is forced to move again, Leon said that they have what's important -- each other. "Everything is replaceable except your life," he said, noting that the community's outpouring of support -- especially from the students who planned Saturday's benefit, and from school nurse Jackie Lape, who was Leon's nurse through his school career -- has been inspiring. 

"We're so grateful for everybody's help with everything," he said.

     

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