Donors raise $20,000 to help SLO High robotics club after fire

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly described Softec.

Community members are stepping up to help the San Luis Obispo High School robotics club, which lost all of its robots and parts in a Thursday fire that destroyed the school’s computer lab.

Computer science teacher Jan Fetcho told The Tribune on Thursday the club lost $30,000 to $40,000 worth of equipment — including parts and six robots — after three disgruntled former students allegedly set fire to the lab to get back at a teacher.

The loss meant the club wasn’t able to compete at a meet Saturday in Modesto, but Softec, a Central Coast nonprofit organization, and community donors are trying to help the group get back on its feet.

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The company set up a GoFundMe page shortly after the fire with an initial goal of $7,500, with all proceeds to go to a tax-deductible account set up through the San Luis Obispo Community Foundation.

As of Saturday afternoon, more than 150 donors had contributed $20,385.

“Many engineers got their start from this classroom,” said Stewart Morse, vice president of Softec, in a statement. “We are driven to help them rebuild quickly, so that these students can get back to developing computer skills and advancing their robotics program. We realize this is an agonizing loss for Mrs. Fetcho, the students and SLOHS.”

In a comment on the GoFundMe page, Fetcho thanked everyone who donated: “Dear community, friends, parents, and family, Your love and support overwhelms me. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Lindsey Holden: 805-781-7939, @lindseyholden27