Six children from Oakland returned home Saturday, weeks after their mother died in a fatal car accident in Florida, and they could not afford to come home due to the funeral cost.
The children of the Griffin family, their ages ranging from 5 to 15 years old, arrived Saturday night at San Francisco International Airport, according to the Oakland Unified School District.
The children attend Bridges Academy, Alliance Academy and Castlemont High School, the school district said.
The Griffins took a family trip in March to Jacksonville, Florida, where Christina Marie Davis, 35, was to help a family member relocate from the East Coast to California, OUSD said.
Tragedy struck on March 23 when Davis, her sister Evelyn, her sister's boyfriend and her nephew, were involved in a multi-vehicle crash that killed them and one other victim, NBC's affiliate First Coast News reported.
"They took my soulmate, a drunk driver. There's nothing like it," said tearful Ladonald Griffin, Davis' husband.
The children had been stranded in Florida since the accident with no money to get back to Oakland, according to OUSD.
Thanks to flight vouchers from United Airlines with the Oakland Public Education Fund, the Griffins will return to the Bay Area after "extremely exhausting and emotional last few weeks," Hong Thach Program Coordinator at the Oakland Public Education Fund said.
"We hope that this small gesture will bring a measure of comfort to this family during a difficult time," United Airlines said in a statement.
The Oakland Public Education Fund has set up a GoFundMe to financially assist the children.
"To me, at the end of the day, the GoFundMe page is to making sure they money goes toward the kids," Thach said.
The children returned to school Monday. Classmates and teachers at Bridges Elementary School welcomed the children back with opened arms. The school's principal, Anita Iverson-Comelo, said she hopes the routine and the normalcy of things will help the kids transition back into their lives.
Griffin said he's just "trying to make sure to stay alive for them because I'm the only thing they got left."