The operators of a beloved Halifax-area daycare vow to rebuild after a devastating wildfire burned not only their business to the ground, but also their home.
The ForestKids Early Learning Centre in Hammonds Plains is still behind an evacuation zone. The child-care facility, which aims to foster a love of the outdoors among children, has 82 kids enrolled.
In the meantime, some kids and their parents have been gathering at a Bedford park to support each other.
“Yesterday, there were at least, I don’t know, 14 families here with their children,” said Terri Kottwitz, the daycare owner and operator.
“So we all did a cheer together and we had a good talk and a couple of tears and some hugs and parents asking what they can do for us when we get ready to rebuild. So it’s definitely a ForestKids community for sure.”
Friends have already started an online fundraising campaign, which raised nearly $9,000 in just one day.
Terri is especially touched by the empathy shown by her young students.
“One little boy came up to me and said, ‘Terri, your house burned all the way to the ground,” she recalled. “They just wanted to make sure that I was all right. These are the children.”
The wildfire, which began Sunday afternoon, had grown to 837 hectares in size by Wednesday — an increase of nearly 50 hectares from the previous day.
So far, more than 16,400 people have been evacuated from their homes and some 200 structures have been destroyed by the out-of-control blaze.
Several other wildfires are continuing to burn in the province — some are out of control, others are smaller.
Although they’ve lost so much, Terri’s husband and daycare co-owner Lutz Kottwitz said he is sure “some people have it way worse than we have.”
He too, has his sight set on rebuilding.
“The children, it’s all about the children. Everything else comes after,” said Lutz.
“This idea is still alive … and this didn’t burn.”
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— with a file from Global News’ Zack Power
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