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Helmut Schmidt, Published December 23 2010

Moorhead family gets flood of help as teachers pay up water bills

A north Moorhead family that had the water shut off in their home has been showered with generosity, thanks to the efforts of two teachers at Robert Asp Elementary School.

First-grade teacher Laurie Schafer and reading teacher Karla Brewster, with donations from colleagues, got enough money in about a half-hour Tuesday to pay off the family’s past-due water bills, and also to get them a gift card for Christmas needs.

“This is the best Christmas I’ve ever had. This will live in my heart for the rest of eternity,” Brewster said Wednesday.

She said the father’s knees buckled when he heard about the gifts.

“This is a proud, young working family that fell on hard times,” Brewster said. “It was such a relief for him. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever experienced.”

Brewster and Schafer recently learned one of their first-grade students had no water at home.

On Tuesday, they decided to split the bill, and called Moorhead Public Service to find out how much money was needed to get the water turned on.

“We just wanted this family to have water this Christmas,” Brewster said.

The amount floored the women: $317. Too much for them to handle alone, they said.

“We both started to cry. We’re not rich,” Brewster said.

They then got the go-ahead from the school principal to e-mail their colleagues and ask for their help. With 35 minutes left before the start of Christmas vacation, the response was overwhelming.

Without being told the name of the family in need, Robert Asp staff donated $740, Brewster said.

Brewster raced over to Moorhead Public Service and paid the bill and MPS turned on the water. The family also has a $111 credit for future water bills. The rest of the money was put on a gift card and presented to the family by Brewster.

“We did this because we care about that family. We care about all the kids. This one just needed us a little more right now,” Brewster said of the first-grader who needed their help.

Brewster declined to share the family’s name, but said they have four children ages 6, 5, 3 and 2 years old.

She said other individuals and churches sought to give the family presents and gift cards on Wednesday.

A Moorhead businessman who wished to remain anonymous confirmed to The Forum that he is willing to help the family with their mortgage, provided they go through counseling with a local crisis agency, and that their need is proven.

“It’s just been incredible. I’ve been on the phone most of the day,” Brewster said. “It’s been a tsunami of goodwill.”

“I just know that at Robert Asp we have something special,” Schafer said.

“Whenever we ask for help, no matter how big or how small, they always come through. I’m just really grateful that that family has benefited,” Schafer said.

“All we were trying to do was turn on the water to help them through Christmas, and it just kind of blossomed through there. Hopefully, they have a merry Christmas,” she said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583