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Sheboygan Falls family turns tragedy into new beginning for deserving family

SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. (CBS 58) -- We followed the Maki family's story for almost two years. They lost three children in a Sheboygan Falls house fire in 2016. Their daughter Jenna, now 9-years-old, was the only survivor.

Now, the rebuild of the home is giving the community closure.

The city of Sheboygan Falls is coming together just like the little house at 507 Western Avenue.

"it's been really nice to get to know the neighbors here," said Jon Hoffman, Exec. Director of Habitat Lakeside.

Hoffman is overseeing the Habitat for Humanity build.

"In this class, we have the opportunity to actually build a house for someone," Dylan Thiel, a senior at Sheboygan Falls High School said.

Two winters ago, the plot of land looked much different. While the parents were at bible study, a fire claimed the lives of Natalie, Ben, and Carter - ages 11, 10, and 7.

"The students know the Maki family story. Sheboygan Falls is a tight-knit community where neighbors lift each other up and pick each other up every day," Hoffman said.

The Maki's donated the land to Habitat for Humanity.

"They were really happy to be able to give of themselves. It's such an honor during a time of uncertainty in their lives," said Hoffman.

The home has already gone from cement to shingles in just 6 weeks.

"I like helping people but I've never helped anyone to this extent," said Dylan Thiel.

"First responders that were here the night of the tragedy have already come to help work on the house," said Hoffman.

Chris, Kristi, and Jenna Maki requested not to be a part of the interview but shared a picture of them with the new homeowners.

"Shawn is a single father of three. He has three children, his youngest is wheelchair bound so this is a fully handicap-accessible house," Hoffman said.

"And I think it'll be really cool to see it done and them living here and knowing that in 20 years, I'll drive by and be like I built that house, I helped built it," Thiel said.

Habitat for Humanity says Chris, Kristi, and Jenna Maki have been to the home multiple times to help with the build. Construction is expected to be finished in the spring. 

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