AUGUSTA, Kan. (KWCH) Tragedy is bringing one Kansas community closer together. A program called "Bright Futures Augusta" helps students in need, like 18-year-old James Cope, who recently lost both his parents.
It's the love of strangers, classmates and teachers giving Cope the strength to continue following his dreams despite his loss.
His high school counselor,Tracy Anderson, has helped coordinate donations for Cope by working with the Bright Futures program.
"Ms.Anderson has been like my knight and shining armor," said Cope.
"It just breaks your heart because here he is, 18, and he's facing a world without any mentoring, without any way to support himself," said Anderson.
The community gives to Cope, whether it's money or their time. Some people are bringing him food, offering rides to school or mentoring him.
"One reason I love living in small towns is because of the community," said Cope. "When one person is hurt, the community comes in to help."
Cope said the community has become his family, and school is now his home away from home.
"Once you walk into the choir room, it's like walking into another family," said Cope. "You're accepted. Everyone appreciates everyone."
The choir room also happens to be the place where he started dreaming of becoming a teacher. Cope said his choir teacher inspired him. He wants to attend Butler Community College after he graduates high school.
"I just wanna help people and inspire people," said Cope.
Cope already seems to be inspiring people with his strength and kindness.
"I feel loved," said Cope. "I feel more loved by the community than I have before."
Cope hopes to pass that love on to his future students.
You can visit the Bright Futures Augusta page on Facebook to learn more about how to donate to Cope.