Students help Canyon Lake couple comb through the ashes

Smithson Valley students sift through the debris of a Canyon Lake home that burned last month, searching for the family's possessions. Photo by Kevin Force.

by Kevin Force, Editor

More than 50 Smithson Valley High School students, teachers, parents and friends turned out Saturday to help a Canyon Lake couple piece together the remains of their possessions.

The home of David and Crystal Yeoman on Buckingham Road was completely destroyed by fire on Dec. 2. The couple has been struggling to survive since the fire, hardly worrying about what personal treasures they could possibly recover.

On Saturday, a group consisting primarily of students in the SVHS Peer Assistance and Leadership (PAL) and JROTC programs volunteered to do the dirty work for the Yeomans and comb through the charred debris searching for any items of value.

"They're doing it right out of their hearts," said Cricket Ingraham, PALs teacher at SVHS. "It is amazing. I hear all the time 'These kids nowadays.' Well, these are the kids that I see."

Ingraham, who knew the Yeomans before the fire, and JROTC instructor Master Gunnery Sgt. Chester Martinez agreed that this project deserved the attention of their respective classes and spearheaded the effort that included more than 50 volunteers.

The search party struck gold, literally, about an hour into the effort as one student uncovered a pill box with jewelry inside. Crystal Yeoman examined the box to find all of her wedding rings and an aunt's diamond ring fully in tact.

"If they had found nothing else today, this would have made it all worth it," she said. "This is just amazing."

The parade did not stop there as throughout the day students presented the Yeomans with whatever items in the debris could be salvaged.

Volunteers arrived at the scene at 8 a.m. donning old worn clothing and dust masks over their mouths and noses. Quickly they began sorting debris into various categories while excavating the remains of the house.

Greg Hall, a JROTC student, is a junior volunteer firefighter for the Spring Branch Fire Department and loaned some extra shovels and tools to the group along with his effort.

While the Yeomans could not recover everything, the recovery effort was certainly a boost for their morale.

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