MANTECA -- Nearly a week after a crash on Interstate 880 in Fremont killed three and injured five others, a Manteca school where two of the victims attended has set up a way for the community to help.
Inside the office of Brock Elliot School sat two boards. While they did not look the part, they had one goal, to serve as branches that help two families in need.
"I thought about, 'Oh, we could get two trees, one for each family that was affected. And we could collect lots of different gift cards because there's different needs. There's food needs and there's gas needs for traveling,'" said Principal Debbie Ruger.
Ruger's school has been mourning the loss of Noelle Johnson, 14-year-old Christy Limas and 9-year-old Brooke Limas after they were killed in the multi-car crash. Brooke was a student at Brock Elliot and Christy graduated from the school last year.
"When tragedy hits you automatically have an emotional reaction at your school site and my reaction was very emotional," Ruger told FOX40.
Two boxes were filled with cards and notes for the Johnson and Limas families, along with "get well" notes for a sixth grader, who is still recovering.
As the school community continues to cope in their last week of school before summer break, Ruger turned her attention to the families affected and the idea of a "giving tree."
"What made me think of the giving tree is the book 'The Giving Tree,' which is kind of indirectly related to loss," Ruger said. "I used to use it a lot as a camp counselor when I was a summer camp counselor and it just seemed to go with what we were doing."
Ruger was hopeful the trees would flourish, especially because she has seen the community continually rise to the occasion to help others in need.
"It continues to be a community that’s giving and caring in all aspects. I see them caring about people who are mourning. I see them caring about the families who have losses," Ruger said. "Going out and seeing the support is just incredible. How the families are in this neighborhood, I think it’s just unique."
If you would like to help the Johnson or Limas family, you can bring gift cards to the school through Wednesday during school hours.