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Former students rally to help Northshore teachers after house fire

So far, they’ve raised more than $25,000 and counting.

NEW ORLEANS — The Covington home of two long-time local educators is almost unrecognizable after flames tore through the house last month. 

The fire left behind a charred mess and a long road recovery, but now community members are coming together to help and have raised thousands to rebuild the home, owned by Irma Vitrano, a retired St. Tammany school teacher, and John Vitrano, the current principal of Fontainebleau High School.

“The Vitrano’s have 85 years of service in the educational system,” former student Mike Holland said. 

Holland says he has fond memories of when he played basketball for John Vitrano several decades ago. He still calls him coach.

“Coach Vitrano has been a second father to so many of his players,” Holland said.

So when Holland heard the family needed help he created a GoFundMe page and it took off. So far they’ve raised more than $25,000 and counting.

“I just felt like there were so many out there that would want to know about the story and want a vehicle to be able to give back,” he said.

Holland says the Vitrano family never asked for any help, but says they are shocked, humbled and grateful for the effort.

“They are not looking for help. I think they realize that the support is so overwhelming that it’s nice to be able to allow (people) to help,” Holland said.

As the Vitrano’s rebuild, the money raised is a true tribute to two teachers who impacted thousands over the course of a career. Holland says he is just happy he can assist the family of his favorite basketball coach.

“This was an opportunity for us to at least help cover costs that they were going to bear out of pocket,” Holland said. “It all adds up, they are all donations from the heart and I think that is very comforting to the Vitrano family during this tough time.”

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