Burnt girl's family lifted by generosity

SHABNAM DASTGHEIB
Last updated 14:44 01/10/2012

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The family of a badly-burned Martinborough toddler says they are humbled by an outpouring of generosity from those touched by their story.

More than $2600 has been raised through a Trade Me auction to help the family of three-year-old Arna Hopkins who suffered severe burns to her body and face on September 10. Arna accidentally set fire to her clothes at her Martinborough home as she had been lighting a candle for twin sister Mila, who died of an infection in August.

She has been undergoing treatment in Auckland's Middlemore Hospital since suffering burns to 50 per cent of her body.

Her uncle Kane Hopkins said Arna's parents Regan and Penny would use the money for travel between Wellington and Auckland and to ease the burden on the family as she underwent long-term treatment. "The whole thing has been so overwhelming. I don't just say that. The outpouring of generosity from people that we don't even know has really been something that has lifted our spirits. There have been times when we have just been stunned."

Mr Hopkins said it was a lot for a three-year-old to go through but Arna was making progress in the right direction after major surgery last week.

The appeal was set up by American insurance mogul and wine entrepreneur Bill Foley, owner of Foley Family Wines and majority owner of luxury Wairarapa lodge Wharekauhau.

The auction included a two night's accommodation at Wharekauhau Lodge and a one-way helicopter ride. It was won by an Auckland based Trade Me user with a bid of $2,630 and all proceeds will go to the Hopkins family.

Last month Mark Turnbull, chief executive of Foley Family Wines, said the Hopkins' double tragedy of having had one daughter die and another severely burnt had struck a nerve. "It was brought to my attention about Arna's [fundraising] appeal. It's a pretty bloody sad story. It's important in the Wairarapa that we support this sort of stuff."

There is also still time to help the family through a campaign through the Wine Exchange website, www.wine-exchange.co.nz. For every case of wine bought online between now and October 31, Foley Family Wines will donate $5.

When purchasing, use ARNA as the promotion code.

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