Reporting Sara Pelissero
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — In the wake of the gravel slide incident that rocked Peter Hobart Elementary School, many Minnesotans are looking for a way to help the students and their families, including parents of classmates. One of those parents also happens to own a cheesecake shop, with plenty of room for donations.
When the need presented itself for someone to organize items for an upcoming silent auction for the Peter Hobart victims, Tami Cabrera, owner of Muddy Paws Cheesecake, jumped at the chance.
Cabrera has a fourth grader who was friends with the two victims of the gravel slide incident — 10-year-old Mohamed Fofana and 9-year-old Haysem Sani. Both boys died while searching for fossils on a class field trip, when a hillside gave way. They were swept into a hole, which then filled with water.
Another victim, Devon Meldahl, remains hospitalized in fair condition at Regions Hospital and Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare and a fourth victim suffered a broken ankle and is resting at home.
Cabrera said she initially wasn’t sure if her own daughter was on the field trip and didn’t learn until hours later that her daughter’s class was scheduled for the next day.
“You can’t explain the type of panic that goes through you, as a parent, when you hear news like that,” she said. “It took a couple of hours for me to find out that she was OK and those hours … I’ll never forget.”
To help the families of the victims and counseling for the students still working through this tragedy, a nationwide silent auction will be held from June 1 to June 5. From that silent auction, 60 percent of the proceeds will go straight to the families affected by the tragedy and the other 40 percent will go to current students in need.
The school was being inundated with so many items for the silent auction that they were running out of space. Cabrera’s shop is just a few block away so she thought it made sense to move the donations to a community place, where she could open for extended hours to collect more donations.
“It just made it easier with the space for it and the logistics since we’re so close,” she said.
Cabrera said they’ve seen a wide variety of items being donated — from home goods to gift baskets to theater tickets, gift certificates and more.
“It’s been overwhelming. It’s just been fantastic. People have just had an outpouring of kindness and charity,” she said.
Cabrera said she just hopes the proceeds will help these families in what’s been a devastating week.
“My heart just goes out to those families and I can’t imagine going through that as a parent and the pain they must be experiencing. I know that both of the boys were extremely special children,” she said.
Cabrera said they will continue to accept donations for the silent auction this week — from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Monday and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Tuesday. She said big ticket items (sports tickets, etc.) but also small items and items for gift baskets are always popular.
Once the silent auction begins on June 1, certain items will be private for the school and the rest of the items will be available for bidding online.
Anyone nationwide will be able to bid during the silent auction through 32auctions.com, under Supporting Peter Hobart Families. On May 31, it will open for a soft viewing before the auction begins.