KCS, nonprofit join to help fire victims

Published 1:58 pm Friday, April 8, 2016

Kingwood Christian School students write inspirational messages to include in care packages to Alabama fire victims during an April 8 event at the school. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

Kingwood Christian School students write inspirational messages to include in care packages to Alabama fire victims during an April 8 event at the school. (Reporter Photo/Neal Wagner)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Twelve-year-old Kingwood Christian School student Ashton Wright still remembers the day his Alabaster house burned to the ground in 2010.

“That was a bad day,” Ashton said on April 8 while helping to pack care packages for others who are facing a similar situation now. “But I feel like everything happens for a reason. We got through it, and everything is fine now. Now we can help everyone else.”

When the 2010 fire destroyed nearly all of Ashton’s and his mother, Keli Lynch-Wright’s, possessions, Ashton was only 5 years old and was a kindergarten student at Kingwood.

“Nobody was home, and our dogs were outside. Nobody was hurt, so that was the true blessing,” Lynch-Wright said.

But after the fire, the family had to start rebuilding their lives from scratch.

When Ashton’s KCS classmates and teachers learned about the family’s hardships, they quickly came together to donate toys, Easter baskets, supplies and money. Because the fire happened shortly before Easter, the support was especially meaningful, Lynch-Wright said.

“They really came together and surrounded him and lifted him up,” Lynch-Wright said. “That really started everything we are doing now.”

Since weathering tragedy, Ashton and his mother have been working continuously to help fire victims all over the state. The family gathers and packages items such as toiletries, blankets, bedding and air mattresses to donate to fire victims in the immediate aftermath of the event.

“That one little thing means so much to people who have lost everything, and it can determine how they move forward with their lives,” Lynch-Wright said.

In January, Lynch-Wright and her son put a name to their efforts and established a registered nonprofit organization: Hatching Hope. Ashton came up with the nonprofit’s name, Lynch-Wright said.

Earlier this year, KCS leaders reached out to Lynch-Wright and asked for ways they could help Hatching Hope. As a result, students and teachers at the school donated several boxes of items needed to construct care packages and added them to supplies Lynch-Wright and Ashton had already gathered.

On April 8, the school’s fifth- and sixth-grade students – Many of who still remember the day Ashton’s house burned down – congregated in the KCS auditorium to construct care packages and write inspirational notes to accompany each package. KCS Leading Lions Volunteer Club President Keelie Yowe worked with Ashton to organize the day.

“This is going to be incredible. We will be able to help so many people because of this,” Lynch-Wright said as she looked out over the students making the bags. “A lot of people ask if we have a warehouse, but we really go through them almost as quickly as we get them.”

KCS Principal Ruth Gray praised the KCS students for their efforts to help those in need.

“You have the honor and privilege of participating in something today that is life-changing,” Gray said. “Today, because of your donations, we are going to be able to make hundreds of bags.”

Ashton, who has worked with his mother to help hundreds of families in need over the years, was quick to shift the praise toward his classmates.

“It’s so heart-touching to see everyone here to help us out,” Ashton said. “It just makes me feel so good.”