By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A southwest Minneapolis business owner is left picking up the pieces after someone broke in and torched the business he’s poured his entire life into.

But as Susan-Elizabeth Littlfield shows us, the owner of CK’s on Nicollet has new hope thanks to some local high school kids that he doesn’t even know by name.

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Lunchtime at Washburn High is a time when students get the option to leave campus. And many of them end up at CK’s convenience store.

“You can ask kids who don’t just go to Washburn, this is a Minneapolis spot, anyone who’s in high school in Minneapolis has heard of CK,” said Washburn senior Adam Gilleece.

But now their hot spot has burned to pieces. Gilleece says it’s a special gathering spot.

“To come and see a spot we’d chill at a lot and to see it ruined like this for no reason, it’s really hard,” Gilleece said.

And it’s especially hard for the owner. After immigrating from Nigeria, and working in convenience stores, Martin Onuh bought his own, and his dream now looks like a nightmare. From the charred water bottles, to the torched Cheetos, Martin estimates he lost $20,000-$50,000 in inventory.

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“I had insurance last year but after three break-ins my insurance dropped me and I couldn’t get insurance,” explained Onuh.

So Washburn students started this online fundraiser for the man they say everyone appreciates. They’ve raised $15,000 and counting.

“It’s just amazing what the community can do,” said Washburn junior Ethan Healy.

Martin Onuh said, “I didn’t know that I was liked like this.”

But he is and it turns out this ugly fire sparked something beautiful.

“This is something that has really touched me, it has kept me going since Sunday,” said Onuh. “In fact, it is them that has kept me going and I’m even more determined to be back so I can’t thank them enough.”

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Minneapolis Fire investigators do believe this was arson. They’re hoping to get any tips they can on who may have torched Martin’s business.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield