Weather

Family who lost everything in tornado receives help from Lexington school

Stacy LeMaster, right, made the rounds hugging everyone who came out to help set up the camper that was given to them to use as temporary housing. The family had been staying at a Red Cross shelter in West Liberty.
Stacy LeMaster, right, made the rounds hugging everyone who came out to help set up the camper that was given to them to use as temporary housing. The family had been staying at a Red Cross shelter in West Liberty. Herald-Leader

A Lexington elementary school made a difference in the lives of one family left homeless by last week's tornadoes.

At a presentation Friday afternoon in Morehead, Breckinridge Elementary School and Principal Karen Haskins donated a camper and a used car to Daniel and Stacy LeMaster and their children.

The LeMasters lost everything in the March 2 tornado and had been staying at an American Red Cross shelter in West Liberty, Haskins said.

"Our school wanted to do something specifically for one family, rather than sprinkling things out to a bunch of different people," Haskins said.

"So we called a school in West Liberty and asked them to give us a family that they knew didn't have any help — that lost everything and that really needed somebody. And they immediately said, 'Oh, we have a family for you.' "

Haskins and her husband, Steve, donated a towing camper for the LeMasters to use as a temporary home. The Haskinses have taken the camper to Cave Run Lake and to NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee.

Breckinridge students, staff and parents then gathered all kinds of things for the LeMasters.

Northside RVs donated mattresses for the children, and Wildcat Mattress donated a queen mattress.

Food, toys, gift cards, bicycles and a double stroller were among the items donated. One Breckinridge employee's son donated his Spider-Man tricycle to the effort. A teacher's granddaughter donated a bike.

The collection effort spun off to include people outside Lexington. For example, Anna Beth Hawkins — the daughter of Julie Hawkins, elementary school services director for Fayette County public schools, and Woodford County schools Superintendent Scott Hawkins — collected clothes from her classmates in Woodford County.

To top it off, Haskins received word Friday afternoon that Toyota South in Richmond had agreed to donate a 1998 Toyota Corolla to the family.

The LeMasters were aware that a camper was coming their way, but had no idea that a car was coming, too.

Breckinridge students wrote letters to the family. One first-grade class made a "Welcome Home" banner for the LeMasters.

The LeMasters will be able to use utility hookups free of charge at House of Prayer Church in Morehead, Haskins said. That's where the presentation happened on Friday.

Haskins, principal of Breckinridge for eight years, said the effort taught children "that it's better to give and help people in need.

"I think my children have learned that when any kind of tragedy happens and when anyone is in need, we need to step up to the plate and help them," Haskins said. "If we think we have problems, if we look around, there's always somebody that needs something more than we do."

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