CHAMPAIGN, Ill., (WCIA) — Students are coming together after a fire destroyed a van outside their school. It belonged to a couple who works at St. Thomas More in Champaign. 

One of them is Melvin Peete, a maintenance worker. The other is his wife Pamala, who works at the school part-time. 

Gianna Kreps, a senior at STM, said she saw smoke and the car’s shell as the fire was ending on Sept. 29. 

Then, during her first class of the day, she said she kept thinking about how she could support the Peetes. 

That’s when she talked to the school’s principal and sent an email to students, staff and alumni. Donations started flowing in online. 

Another student suggested also having a “dress down day” where they paid $5 and didn’t wear their uniforms. Students raised about $1,700 that day alone. 

Overall, with help from the St. Thomas More community, they raised over $6,000. 

“It was exciting, I expected it to be so much less actually,” Kreps said. “I knew us students would come together for these people, but the amount of support we were able to show them…it really truly goes to show how thankful we are for everything they do for us. They do more than anyone could imagine.”

Kreps said the Peetes support students at sporting events, and always welcome them at school. 

The money went directly to them, and Kreps said they will decide how to use it. Peete said he is going to see how much insurance covers to determine the best way to spend the money. 

He said he was in shock when he and his wife received the check. He’s been at STM for seven years and said he is grateful for the kids. He called them humble, awesome and spirited. 

The Champaign Fire Department said the fire is likely to have started in the engine compartment under the hood.