ARLINGTON (CBS) – Young children who lost a teacher, turned the tragedy into a giving moment in her honor. On Monday, the kids at an Arlington elementary school made a big donation in the name of Alanna DeMella, who police say was killed by a drunk driver several months ago. The kids got a big surprise in return.
They had ice cream before lunch at the Peirce Elementary School in Arlington. It was a way for the charity Pitching In For Kids to say thank you. The 4th grade class organized a big fundraiser for the charity and gave $2,500 to help kids around New England. But it’s the reason behind their efforts that really matters. “They really bought into our goal, to raise money and then donate it to help others in memory of Mrs. DeMella,” says Peirce teacher Carolyn Burke.
Mrs. DeMella is Alanna DeMella, a teacher at the school. In March, when she was seven months pregnant, she and her husband were on vacation in Florida when she was killed in a horrible accident. Authorities say Rosa Rivera-Kim was driving drunk and smashed into DeMella.
DeMella’s family asked that fundraising be done in her name to support Pitching In For Kids. “When I heard the story I was like, I’ve got to go up there and meet this 4th grade class,” says former Sox pitcher Tim Wakefield who works with the charity and who made a surprise visit to the kids. “It teaches them a lot of character as far as caring for somebody else, but it also teaches them a way to, the healing process, in doing something in her memory,” says Wakefield.
The young students are proud of their work. “It makes me feel happy because I think it’s really nice everyone thinks about her,” says 4th grader Avril Lynch. “Miss DeMella, even thought it was in memory of her, if she was still alive maybe she would like it, too,” says fellow 4th grader Matt Malone.
The driver of the car that killed Alanna DeMella has been charged with DUI Manslaughter and is awaiting trial.