The students from Lynwood High had been attending a summer course with teacher Audrey Casas, who has experience helping those in need as president of Mastering Hope Inc. Casas, who was notified through social media about the family, told her students about the situation, and it snowballed into a student-led project.
Within a week, the students had started a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $21,000 for Zoila Cordova-Islas and her five children. The students then raised an additional $400 to give the family an outing at Chuck E. Cheese.
"They deserve to live life as kids," said 12th-grade student Angelica Tlaseca.
The family also received housing assistance with a transitional home. Everything happened within a week.
"At the end of the day, we're all human, we need to just give back to one another and just show love. I think that is what the most important thing is," said student Bruno Casas.
"For me, it's a blessing," said Zoila Cordova-Islas, who said her children were touched by the support, knowing people in their community took time to care. "Now that they see that a lot of people are trying to help, they get really happy."
Along with the money and housing help, Casas said the community rallied to help gather about 10 carloads of items, including clothes, personal hygiene items, toys, even haircuts and a cake were donated to the family.
Chuck E. Cheese added to the goodwill with $500 and summer game passes for the kids.
"This is our way of saying thank you for allowing us to be in their neighborhood, and it makes us feel good that we are able to provide them a great visit, fun safe environment," said Octavio Castaneda, Chuck E Cheese senior general manager.
"When we get together we do amazing things," said Audrey Casas.