Suburban Students Raise Cash For Families in Need After Teacher Loses Sister

Some Tinley Park fifth-graders are attempting to transform a tragedy into something positive after their teacher’s sister died in a head-on car accident.

The students made a YouTube video and raised cash to purchase gifts to donate to families at the Ronald McDonald House—a charity for families of children with complicated medical needs.

Katrina Kloess’ sister, Katie, was driving to her students’ basketball game in Marengo when she died in the accident.

“I got a phone call from my father and he said she’s gone, she’s gone,” Kloess said.

She said after she’d grieved, she returned to Trinity Lutheran Elementary school to get back to her students, find some strength and empower her students in the name of her sister.

She gave a dollar to each of her students, part of a pay-it-forward Christmas tradition she does every year with her fifth-graders.

“I wanted them to know who she was and the kindness that she had in her heart, and the love that she wanted to share, because she knew that God had given her so much,” Kloess said.

That’s when the students got the idea to take their dollars and turn it into a more than $400 to purchase the gifts for the Ronald McDonald House families.

The students say they will deliver the gifts Tuesday.

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