ACUSHNET (CBS) – On the last day of school before the holiday break, children at Acushnet Elementary School gathered inside their cafeteria to reflect.
“In our class, Collin was always very generous because he shared his belongings without hesitation,” a female classmate expressed. “Our class will not be the same without him,” another student said.
Nine-year-old Collin Lopes and his father, 41-year-old Joseph Lopes, died from carbon monoxide poisoning earlier in December while sleeping inside their home on Buttonwood Lane in Acushnet.
“We believe that this Collin’s challenge will help prevent this from happening to other families,” one student said at the podium.
Collin’s classmates, school officials and the town’s fire department teamed up to launch Collin’s Challenge, a drive designed get as many working detectors in as many homes as possible.
Acushnet Fire Chief Kevin Gallagher told the students and faculty that his department has already been receiving carbon monoxide detectors from the community.
“We received those detectors, but we need more. Your folks are going to be able to go through your home with good information, about detectors and where the detectors should be and make sure that you have them,” Chief Gallagher said.
Collin’s mother was in attendance. She gave a hug to the fire chief.
“The pain and suffering of this family and of this community and of these kids in the fourth grade is palpable,” explained Chief Gallagher.
“We’re teaching resilience and to turn a tragic event into a positive,” said Achushnet Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Donovan.
The goal is also to never forget the fourth grader’s generous heart and infectious smile.
“It’s a small community, a great community, and a tight one. So I think his name will stay alive, regardless,” said Acushnet resident John Marmelo.