MANITOWOC, Wis. (WFRV) – A Manitowoc teenager is raising money to rebuild a home that has been in the family for three generations.
The circumstances around how it got that damage are unique, but also a lesson in the power of forgiveness.
The Manitowoc community hosted a fundraiser at Balde Farm on Sunday afternoon. There were raffle prizes, a bouncy house, cotton candy and other snacks, and farm animals.
Sixteen-year-old MaKayla Green is trying to raise money to rebuild her great grandmother’s house which was damaged in a fire.
MaKayla was on the verge of buying the house. She wanted to move in with her grandma so that she could take care of her and give her a better living situation. A day before MaKayla was supposed to sign the papers to officially purchase the home, she got a phone call that there had been a fire.
“I thought it was a dream and everyday it still feels like a dream,” says MaKayla.
Jill Scharenbroch lives next door to the house that had the fire and is also MaKayla’s godmother. She was the one who made the 9-1-1 call the night of the fire.
MaKayla and Jill suspected that it could be arson because there weren’t any utilities in the house that could have caused the fire. A few days later, MaKayla received a call from law enforcement that a homeless man had accidentally caused the fire.
“He went through a window fell asleep and lit a blanket on fire so he could stay warm and then he woke up and he was on fire so he took his clothes off and threw it out the window,” says MaKayla.
Police identified the man as 56-year-old Charles Cantrell III. He was jailed on charges of criminal trespass to a dwelling and negligent handling of burning materials.
Cantrell III called MaKayla to apologize. Instead of getting mad, MaKayla chose to forgive him.
“In his voice he was crying, he felt bad, he said he was so so sorry and I said I forgive you and this your chance to turn your life around,” says MaKayla.
“She’s so strong and so forgiving she forgave him right away and always looks at the positive things in life,” says Scharenbroch.
MaKayla wants to raise enough money to rebuild the house and hopes that she can still move her grandmother in and keep the house in the family.
She has raised about $4,000 at this point. In addition to the fundraiser she held Sunday afternoon, she also has a GoFundMe page set up with a goal to raise $80,000.
Some of the money from the fundraiser also went to law enforcement, something MaKayla wanted to do because of how helpful they were in figuring out what had happened to the house.