Students at the Frank Sedita Academy in Buffalo are trying to cope with the tragic loss of one of their classmates. 7-year-old Alexavier Torres-Santiago died Sunday in a fire at his home on Fillmore Avenue. The boy and his three siblings also attend the school.
"He just had a zest for life, and he just had a zest and zeal for education," said Dr. Wanda Schoenfeld, principal at the Frank Sedita School. In a WBFO News interview, Torres-Santiago noted how bright Alexaier was.
"He was like a sponge and learning the English language very rapidly. He would light up the room. He was becoming the leader in his classroom," said Schoenfeld.
The family lost everything in the blaze. Schoenfeld met with the boy's mother earlier in the week to give her all the child's school belongings as a momentum of his life.
"I met with his mom. So in my mind, I think mom was trying to find a way to connect, find a way to hold onto memories of her son. So I had gathered all his things -- his notebooks -- and gathered them all together and able to sit down with her," noted Schoenfeld.
The boy's siblings attend Frank Sedita School. One is in kindergarten, third and fifth grade.
Counselors are working with any students who are having a difficult time in dealing with the boy's death. Fabiola Friot is a social worker at the school.
"The kids in the classroom are also grieving, and every person grieves differently," said Friot. "It is okay for them to cry and it is okay for them to feel sadness." A couple of parents did call because some students when home crying, missing their classmate. But Friot suggests its best to send the child to school, keeping them in their normal environment.
"The siblings of the deceased child -- I'm recommending they are sent to school on Monday, because they are in a crowded hotel, and they need some sense of stability. So they won't be as scared and traumatized," said Friot.
A benefit fund has been established at M&T Bank: Acct. #9864160693, M&T Bank, 130 Grant St., Bflo. NY, 14213. The Red Cross is also assisting the family, but they are in need of home furnishings and clothing. Ashbury Shalom Zone on 7th Street in Buffalo.
Although the Red Cross is currently assisting the Santiago Family, they are homeless and are in need of the following items:
- Home furniture
- Dining table
- 6 beds and mattresses
- Living Room set
- Clothing (see attached list for sizes)
Donations can be brought between the hours of 9a.m. – 2:30 p.m. to: Asbury Shalom Zone, 520 7th St., Bflo. NY, 14201.
There are five members of the Santiago Family, Father Carlos (Rodriguez), Mother Sarah, and children Esmeralda, Elizauder, and Laycha. The following are their sizes for clothing:
Shirt – medium
Pants – 32
Shoes – 8
Shirt – medium, 14 or 16
Pants – 5, 18
Shoes – 6 ½
Shirts – 7, 10
Pants – 7, 10
Shoes – 13, 1 ½
You can also call 716-816-3220 to find out more on how to assist the family.