Raul Flores is a 19-year-old senior at Ashville High School. He lives with his mother and three sisters. To make ends meet, Raul has to work.
To get to work, he depends on his car to get himself and his mother to Azteca’s in Springville.
Ashville High School Principal Patti Johnson said all was going well until a group of young people broke into Raul’s car recently.
“It was the Saturday night/Sunday morning after school started,” Johnson said. “This group of young people broke into his car, stole some things and slashed the tires. They came back later, around 4 a.m., and, from what I understand, used gasoline to set his car on fire.
“The car was parked up next to the house trailer, which, in turn, caught the house trailer on fire.”
Johnson said the family was inside the trailer asleep at the time of the fire.
“Raul’s sister, Jhasmin, said flames were coming into her bedroom by the time she woke up,” Johnson said. “They are very thankful to all get out of the trailer.
“They had some neighbors to come and help them with water hoses until the fire department could get there. They were able to save a few things.”
Johnson said what happened to this family is horrific.
“Raul needs to stay in school, but he also needs to work as well,” Johnson said. “He’s been staying here at the school once he finishes and waits for someone to come get him and take him to work.
“We just started calling everyone we knew to see what we could make happen.”
What happened was an outpouring of support for this family.
AHS Assistant Principal Ray Crump was able to find a car – a 2006 Ford 500. Crump said the owner put four new tires on it, changed the oil and recharged the air conditioner.
St. Clair County Probate Judge Mike Bowling and his probate staff donated money to register the car and purchase a tag for it.
State Farm’s Richard Waid has provided a liability insurance policy for a year.
Herff Jones representative Steve Patrick donated $1,000 to go toward a gas card and various expenses for the family.
Crump said a close friend who wants to remain anonymous made a donation just because he wanted to give Raul a chance.
“We knew if he didn’t have a vehicle, the end result would be him dropping out of school,” Crump said. “That’s not what we wanted to see happen. He knows he has to provide for his family, and we wanted to give him a chance to do just that, and for him to finish school. That’s the biggest thing.
“I am the lien holder of the car, and when I present him with his graduation diploma, I will also present him with the title to this car.”
Said Johnson, “We had a lot of great people to step up and help.”
Crump said Raul has to earn this opportunity to get this car.
“He is to come to school on time,” Crump said. “He is to conduct his business like a respectable young man. And he is to graduate. When he graduates, I will give him the title to the car.”
On hand to see Raul get the car was St. Clair Schools Superintendent Jenny Seals.
“I am so proud for Raul and his family,” Seals said. “So many people have stepped up to help this family. This is a blessing. I want to thank Patti Johnson and Ray Crump for helping one of their students in a time of need. It’s just a way to give back.”
Also present to see Raul be surprised with a car was his mother and his sister.
Maura Flores said she was happy and thankful all of this is being done for her son.
“I am very thankful for the new car,” Raul said.