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Time is almost up to visit the Humboldt Ice Rink in Fortuna, which is expected to generate ten of thousands of dollars for local nonprofits and other groups that have given their time to staff the rink.

The rink closes for the season Jan. 8, 2017.

“This year we were lucky enough to get Stir Fry Willie as DJ,” Humboldt Ice Rink committee member Nicole Genaro said of entertainment on New Year’s Eve.

Humboldt Ice Rink committee member and Fortuna Business Improvement District Executive Director Dianna Rios said the rink gave $28,000 in total to volunteer groups last year and will have given out about $35,000 to volunteer groups by the rink’s closure in January.

“The hope for funding local community groups instead of hiring staff is that the money will stay in the area,” Rios said.

Genaro said the rink needs two groups of seven to 10 people to work two six-hour shifts every day the rink’s open. For each shift, the group gets $300 from the rink.

“Any nonprofit group can come (volunteer) so it’s a great way to give back to the community as well,” she said.

Genaro said a lot of local high school clubs and sports and the North Coast Boys & Girls Club have helped staff the rink. But that’s not all, local families are also using it as an opportunity to raise funds.

In August, Fortuna resident Monica Jade Laurilliard died in a car wreck near Redcrest at the age of 37, leaving behind her three children Hailey, 16, Mary, 9, and Davey Hipes, 6. Laurilliard’s close friend and neighbor Ashley McLaughlin, who has a young son of her own, said she took the kids in since their mother’s passing.

McLaughlin said she signed up for a shift with the kids on Tuesday this week and they’ll staff the rink again next week.

“They were all there the whole shift,” she said the children split their time working and skating. “They had a lot of fun doing it.”

The $600 they’ll earn from the two shifts will go into a trust fund for the Hipes children’s future.

“So that they have financial support when they are in college,” McLaughlin explained.

The children have been getting by since their mother’s death but she said their feelings come and go.

“They’ve been through enough since losing their mom and I hope they have a better future,” McLaughlin said.

She said she’s in the process of finalizing her guardianship of the children now.

“I think that the ice rink is amazing,” McLaughlin said, adding it provides temporary escape for the children from their troubles.

McLaughlin isn’t the only one taking advantage of the opportunity the ice rink affords to help out her family.

“We have groups really from all over looking for an opportunity,” Rios said.

She said she was contacted this week by a family who need money to help pay for travel and medical care for their son, so they want to volunteer a shift.

“They’re going down for further treatment but they pre-diagnosed him with leukemia,” Rios said.

She encouraged even people who don’t like to skate to come down and buy a coffee or hot chocolate from the concession stand to support the rink for the future.

“We really could use the community support,” Rios said.

Hunter Cresswell can be reached at 707-441-0506.

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