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Faces of the Fire: Community Helps Sandburg Teacher Who Lost Home in Colby Fire

Image courtesy of gofundme.com
Image courtesy of gofundme.com
A community is reaching out to a Glendora teacher who lost everything in the raging Colby Fire.

The home of Sandburg Middle School math teacher Gena Palo and her husband, John, and children, Breanna and Gavin, was completely destroyed as the fire swept relentlessly across the foothills, Jan. 16.

According to a friend of Gena, Claremont resident Jenny Blacksher, the family only had time to flee. Their home, their valuables, their memories all burned in the fire.

The same day, Blacksher set out to right a wrong and established a donation drive on the funding website gofundme.com.

"We want to help this beloved family to 'pick up the pieces' and survive through this difficult time. So we are trying to raise money for their multiple expenses that they are now facing," Blacksher said on the Palo's donation page.

"My heart breaks for her family and she is truly an amazing teacher," said Kimberly Lawrence on Facebook. Lawrence has a daughter who attends Sandburg. "My daughter as well as all her students absolutely love her."

The Palo's story quickly spread through social media, receiving 2,400 "likes" on Facebook and 278 Tweets on Twitter. The goal of raising $3,000 was quickly surpassed. As of Monday afternoon, $21,223 been raised.

The morning of Jan. 17, John Palo expressed his extreme gratitude to those who have donated to their family.

"The generosity of the friends, UPSers and strangers has completely broken my heart. I will never be able to thank you individually but know that you have warmed our hearts. You are amazing individuals," John Palo said.

"What started out as a few of us girls wanting to hopefully collect a modest amount to help the Palos, turned into this magnificent outpouring of support beyond what was imagined," Blacksher said on gofundme

Donations are still being accepted.


Karen Nutt January 21, 2014 at 12:03 PM
Praying for this family and all those who lost so much during the fire. Firefighters did an amazing job, unfortunately they could not save everything. I do not know this family, but know that the city of Glendora is an amazing city to teach in and to live. Praying.

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