Howard Beach school rallies around student after fire destroys home

Faculty and students at P.S. 207 rallied around the family of Khrone Arrindell after his home was destroyed in a fire on Jan. 26.
Photo courtesy of Catherine Stanzoni-Acevedo

Khrone Arrindell showed up for class at P.S. 207 in Howard Beach on Wednesday morning only hours after he and his family suffered a tragedy.

Arrindell’s South Ozone Park home caught fire the night before. Though everyone escaped without injury, according to teacher Catherine Stanzoni-Acevedo, all of the family’s possessions were destroyed, either by the fire or water damage related to the firefighters’ efforts to extinguish the blaze.

Nonetheless, she noted, the dedicated 14-year-old appeared at P.S. 207 ready to take a test. But once administrators and the school community learned about what had happened, they showed their dedication to Arrindell and his family.

Stanzoni-Acevedo, who had Arrindell in her class previously, reached out to his father and launched a GoFundMe account, collecting more than $7,000 in donations in just 24 hours.

The school quickly set up impromptu clothing drives for Arrindell’s family of nine; school officials gathered toiletries and even arranged for a local motel to house the family for free for a couple of nights. Some of Arrindell’s classmates even began a collection to help him replace the Xbox video game system that he lost in the fire.

“The outpouring of the support from the families here is crazy,” Stanzoni-Acevedo said. “Whatever support we can give, we’re trying to give it — because they have nothing.”

Members of the P.S. 207 school community are now working to help find the Arrindell family a more permanent shelter than a motel room. The proceeds from the GoFundMe account will help the family pay immediate expenses and rebuild what they had lost.

Stanzoni-Acevedo remarked that the generosity of local families is not surprising given that most of the families were in the same position just three years ago after Hurricane Sandy flooded and damaged much of Howard Beach in October 2012.

“The neighborhood has been so generous because everyone here had to start over, too,” she said.

As for Arrindell, Stanzoni-Acevedo remarked that the student “can’t believe” the generosity he and his family have experienced amid such a difficult time.

“He feels so loved,” she said.

Click here to donate to the GoFundMe campaign.