When Caraline Krueger’s employers at the Cooperage Inn told her they wanted to host a fundraiser to help raise money for her family, whose Calverton home was badly damaged in a Jan. 17 fire, she almost began to cry.
“I was just kind of in shock,” said Caraline, 20, who has been a hostess at the Baiting Hollow establishment for the past five months. “In the short time I’ve worked there, they’ve become really close to me and we’re like a big family.”
“A Time to Rebuild: The Krueger Family Fundraiser” will take place Tuesday, March 31, at 6 p.m. at the Cooperage Inn. Admission costs $20 per person and includes a buffet dinner and live music by Caraline’s cousin Austin Krzyzweski of East Quogue. A cash bar will also be available. All proceeds from the event will go directly to the Kruegers, who have four other children besides Caraline.
“They’re a local family,” said Cooperage Inn general manager Scott Hopkins. “We’re right down the road from where they live and Caraline is a special person. She’s part of our team and we want to help her family as much as we can.”
This is the third fundraiser the community has hosted since the Kruegers lost their 1870 farmhouse on Twomey Avenue. They’re currently living in trailers on their property that were provided through their insurance company, said Caraline’s mother, Raven.
“Everyone is taken care of,” Raven said. “We’re doing all right. People have been wonderful — our community, the school district, our church family, our immediate family. We have been cared for by many good people.”
Raven said a late January fundraiser at Moe’s Southwest Grill in Riverhead raised $100 for her family and that the recent fourth annual Crazy Sports Night, hosted by the Riverhead Parent-Teacher Organization executive council, raised another $1,500.
The Kruegers have incurred a “lot of costs” since the fire, Raven said, but they’re “moving forward — slowly but surely.”
The family even has reason to celebrate: their youngest son, 18-year-old Tristin who has acute lymphoblastic leukemia and is a senior at Riverhead High School, recently went into remission.
“We really hope he can stay there,” Raven said. “Nothing is a guarantee but we try to be very positive. At the end of March, he’ll be back in school.”
Raven said that if it’s possible to be thankful the fire happened, it’s only because tragedies like this “bring out the best in people,” she said.
“People have been so wonderful to us,” she said. “It’s amazing how that helps make a difficult situation very bearable.”