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Groups come to aid of family

Profile image for By Britney Tabor
By Britney Tabor

Donna Hooper said she can’t begin to measure the support offered by the Denton County community after a fire earlier this month destroyed her family’s home of 16 years.

“They have just been emotionally supportive, financially supportive,” Hooper said. “When you lose everything and your community comes to support you, you just can’t measure that. It’s been amazing.”

The home — with barbed-wire fence blocking the property from the road and a dirt drive leading to the front door — stood empty on Wednesday afternoon. A light breeze rustled the grass and things were mostly quiet along the rural two-lane stretch of FM1173 just outside of Krum, where the home is situated, with the occasional vehicle whisking by at 60 mph.

Authorities arrested 18-year-old William “Caz” Wojciak of Krum on a charge of burglary of habitation with intended other felony (arson) in connection with the Oct. 2 fire at the Hooper home.

The day of the fire, families, teammates and coaches from the volleyball team at Krum High School — where Hooper’s daughter is a senior and plays volleyball — came to the family’s aid with gift cards, toiletries and clothing. And the outpouring of support didn’t stop there.

Employees at Northstar Bank of Texas said an account has been set up for the family, and anyone interested in making a donation can do so by visiting any branch office and indicating they’re supporting the Hooper Family Benefit.

Hooper is vice president of the Krum school board and a government professor at North Central Texas College in Corinth. Colleagues with both groups have also pitched in to offer support.

At a Krum High homecoming bonfire on Oct. 2, a collection was taken to support the Hoopers. At the central administration building, a private collection has been taken by staff to purchase gift cards for the family, said Christina Kruse, the school district’s public information officer.

Kruse said that Hooper has been helpful in her interaction on the school board, and the district wanted to give back to her just as she has given to the Bobcat community.

“Since she is a part of our Bobcat family, we just want to be able to help her and support her in any way we can,” Kruse said. “We just want to be able to support her in her time of need — her and her family.”

Roy Culberson, dean of the NCTC campus at Corinth, said people there have sent warm wishes, gift cards, food, clothes and money to support Hooper and her family.

“It’s just the staff coming together trying to show their love for our instructor ... our institution has really tried to assist with love and support,” he said.

Sonein Noack has a daughter who plays volleyball with Hooper’s daughter. Shortly after the fire, Noack said she established the “Hooper Family Benefit Page” on Facebook. She said it’s a message board where people can read and post information on how to assist the Hooper family.

Noack said she felt this was a way for girls who play volleyball with Hooper’s daughter to help and show their love and support.

“We would do it again for anybody,” she said. “That’s just how this town is. We’re a town of loving people.”

Hooper said her family has attempted to get their life back to some normalcy and recently moved into temporary housing in Krum. She said it’s likely the family will rebuild in Krum.

“We’re doing the best we can,” she said. “It’s been a lot to deal with. We’re just dealing with the current situation.”

Donna and Scott Hooper are listed as the owners of the five-acre property in the 14800 block of FM1773, according to Denton County tax records.

In an e-mailed statement Thursday, Scott Hooper thanked those who’ve offered support since the fire. Additionally, he recognized “the Denton County Sheriff’s Department and in particular investigator Marco Deleon for his continued efforts regarding this investigation, a true professional in every way.”

“It’s a senseless tragedy, not only for my family but for everyone involved. The emotional scars will last for some time but we look forward to healing each and every day as we continue to put the pieces back together,” he wrote. “I would like to take this time to thank my family, friends, co-workers and the Krum community for their support.

“Even in the lowest moment of our lives, they have given us reasons to believe in others. You’ve changed our lives in a positive manner.”

In every sense of the word, what the Hooper family has endured is a tragedy, Scott Hooper said by phone.

“The one good thing that has come of it, is it shows you there’s a lot of good people out there,” he said.

Staff writer Jenna Duncan contributed to this report.