Burned mother gets aid from caring pupils

MARBLE FALLS — Students at Marble Falls High School are banding together to help the family of an Avenue P woman who suffered severe burns in an accident at her home Feb. 14.

Maria Ruiz was burning brush in her yard around noon when the flames flashed, igniting her clothing, according to Fire Chief Larry Wright.

The mother of three was taken to San Antonio’s Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, where she’s being treated for third-degree burns.

“She’s been really positive,” daughter Gina Ruiz said Tuesday. “Hopefully she’ll be out of the hospital by Friday.”

Gina Ruiz, a Marble Falls High School senior, has helped care for the family since her mother’s accident, balancing classes with visits to the hospital.

Ruiz and her sister Tiffany, a sophomore, attend classes at the high school.

Another sibling is in fifth grade at Colt Elementary School.

“At the beginning it was hard, but now it’s kind of routine,” Gina Ruiz said. “We try to go every other day after class. We’re all getting through it.”

High school teacher Rebecca Gigliotti said support for the family has been non-stop since the accident, adding friends of the two girls immediately began thinking of ways to help.

Gigliotti is an adviser to Peer Assistance and Leadership Students, or PALS, a group of seniors who mentor younger students.

“The PALS kids are all seniors, and they really like the girls a lot,” Gigliotti told The Daily Tribune. “They wanted to give all of the money we raised (to help earthquake victims) in Haiti to the family. I told them we had already committed the money for Haiti, but we started something separate to help.”

Gigliotti said the group donated $500 in proceeds from an earlier electronics recycling program to the Ruiz family, adding PALS plans to give an additional $200 per month through the end of the school year.

“Hopefully that will help them to be able to go down to the hospital to see their mom,” she said.

Other campus groups, such as the National Honor Society and the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America are also donating funds, Gigliotti said.

High School Crisis Counselor Nikki Fuss said she’s contacted civic organizations including area Rotary and Lions clubs to ask for donations.

“We’ve got an account here at the high school in the front office,” she said, adding community members can drop off their donations at the school’s main office.

Gigliotti said the pupils are planning other fundraisers.

“We’re planning a raffle, where the winner will be able to throw a pie in the face of (Stan) Whittle, the academic dean,” she said.

In the meantime, Gina Ruiz said she’s simply grateful for all of the support she’s seen since her mother’s accident.

“Everyone has been really nice helping out with the donations,” she said. “We’re very grateful.”

Contributions to help the the family can be made at the front office of the high school, 2101 Mustang Drive.

chris@thepicayune.com

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