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DALLAS With his hand wrapped in a cast and burns visible on his arms, Pablo Mendez, 5, still isn't ready to return to school.

So twice a week his kindergarten teacher comes to him.

Pablo is recovering from burns on more than half his body.

So is his mom, Julia, 27, his dad Domingo, 33.

Even their Chihuahua, named Goofy, was burned in when their Oak Cliff home exploded in flames last summer. News 8 viewers donated more than $11,000 to help the canine recover.

The young family lost everything in the fire.

Thursday evening, Christmas came early with a visit from Pablo's teachers.

Trinity Basin Preparatory School collected money for gifts.Among them is a Wii gaming console, which is meant for more than just entertainment.

When Juan was in the hospital, that was part of his therapy to keep him active because of his injuries, said Randy Shaffer, Trinity Basin superintendent. The physical therapist said this is something that would help him in recovery.

Even the superintendent's teenage daughter, Sara, brought donations from her classmates at Southlake Carroll High School.

In total it was about $500 in cash and a little over $500 in gift cards, the high school senior said as she handed over a small felt bag.

Julia Mendez has cried a lot about what happened, but the tears she shed Wednesday were different.

I'm happy because I didn't know how we were going to spend Christmas, Mendez said.

I thought I was just going to start bawling, Sara said. It felt really nice to be able to do something, and to see it could make her happy for the holiday season.

Despite permanent scars and starting over during the holidays, the Mendez family is content to simply be together again.

The generosity of people they don't really know makes it even more special.

E-mail jwhitely@wfaa.com

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