BY JOHN J. HOPKINS
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A Rapids family that was displaced by a fire that destroyed their Mallard Drive home Thursday morning is receiving support from the Starpoint School District, and donations for the family are also coming in to a local church.
Students, faculty and staff — especially at the middle school — are using a series of fund-raisers to assist Jean Prosser and his son, along with Prosser’s girlfriend Kristi DiMaro and her three children.
Sean Croft, Starpoint’s director of instruction, said Middle School Principal James Bryer began taking in monetary donations on Friday, and the funds raised were used to purchase gift cards for the family.
“We’ll continue with that through next week,” Croft added. “We’re also taking in clothing, shoes and more all next week, too.”
A district-wide “dress down day” will take place Monday. Students may, for a donation to the family, skirt the district’s dress code. Croft said he hopes the district can raise $1,000 on Monday.
In addition, an annual fund-raising project hosted by student services will include the family.
Croft said every year student services hosts a basket raffle and the money that’s raised from it is used to help the needy at Christmas.
“We’ve put the family at the top of this list after what happened,” Croft said.
The children range in age from 2-11.
Family and friends of the Prossers and DiMaros are also coming to their aid. A cousin of DiMaro, Amanda Brosius, is accepting drop-off donations at her home at 3 Bewley Parkway in the city of Lockport. Brosius has a covered porch where donors may leave items if no one is home.
“She told me she came home and the porch was already overflowing,” said Cheryl Maertin Yurek, a friend of Brosius. Maertin Yurek said Brosius is taking gifts and clothing to the family; other donated items are being stored at the Second Presbyterian Church, 71 Van Buren St.
People wishing to make donations may call Maertin-Yurek at 799-4013.
Maertin-Yurek’s husband is an assistant chief for the Rapids Fire District.
“I have four children myself and I couldn’t let those kids not have a Christmas,” Maertin-Yurek said.
According to Maertin Yurek, the three boys are all involved in scouting and lost all their scouts-related items in the fire.
The American Red Cross is accepting monetary donations through its disaster relief fund. Call 1-800-REDCROSS or visit www.redcross.org to make a donation. A $10 donation may also be made by texting the word REDCROSS to 90999. The donation will be charged to your cell phone bill.
Jay Bonafede, communications coordinator for the Red Cross serving Erie and Niagara counties said a Red Cross official on Thursday provided erroneous information about helping the family. He said the Red Cross does not take donations for specific people.
“The American Red Cross has a strict policy of universality, meaning we provide the same level of service to every client we assist,” Bonafede said in an e-mail. “Also, due to the cost and logistics of packaging and delivering in-kind gifts, as well as the emotional impact on clients, we do not accept material donations so that we may make more efficient use of our donor’s dollars.”
The fire remains under investigation by the Niagara County fire investigators.NEEDS The children who lost everything in Thursday's fire wear the following sizes: • Elizabeth, age 2, size 2T, shoe size 7 • Michael, age 8, size 8, shoe size 2 • Tanner, age 10, size 12, shoe size 8 • Tyler, age 11, size 8/10, shoe size 8