Police raise funds for S.F. girl who died of meningitis

Officers, unions gather more than $2,000 to help cover funeral costs for fifth-grader

Following the death of a San Francisco fifth-grader of bacterial meningitis Monday, San Francisco police officers and their unions have raised more than $2,000 to help pay for her funeral.

Officer Nelson Ramos of the Southern Station spearheaded the campaign to raise money for the family of 11-year-old Evelyn Cortes-Covarrubios after seeing a picture of her on a television news broadcast Tuesday. “They had a photo of the girl, who looks a lot like his daughter when she was that age," Sgt. Marina Chacon said, also of Southern Station. “He approached me literally in tears and said, ‘Sarge, can we do something?’”

Evelyn, the second-youngest of four siblings, began to feel ill while at Tenderloin Community Elementary School on Friday, but didn’t tell anyone. Her parents took her to a hospital over the weekend, and she died Monday.

Since news of Evelyn’s death came out Tuesday, individual officers, the San Francisco Police Officers Association, the Latino Peace Officers Association and the Asian Peace Officers Association have contributed more than $2,200 to pay for Evelyn’s funeral expenses.

“Officer Ramos has personally walked up to every officer he sees and not one officer has said no. Every officer has donated something,” Chacon said Thursday. “It’ll give a relief to the parents to concentrate on their grieving and not the cost.”

“We were genuinely moved by their generosity and their compassion for a family that’s not even in the district that they represent,” Tenderloin Community Elementary School Principal Herb Packer said Thursday.

Chacon said Evelyn and her family were very religious. She said Evelyn gathered her change together every Sunday to buy flowers, which she would then place at the feet of a statue of the Virgin de Guadalupe at St. Boniface Church before praying.

Evelyn had two older brothers in their late teens or 20s, as well as one younger sister, who is also in the fifth grade, Chacon said. She was close with her family; one of her brothers would walk her to school every day, and she spent much of her time at school with her sister, Packer said.

Evelyn’s father came by the school to drop off a picture of her Thursday. Packer described him as “inconsolable.”

Packer said he and school staff plan to create an award in Evelyn’s name, to be given to an outstanding fifth-grader each year. Staff members are also donating money for Evelyn’s funeral expenses, Packer said.

Evelyn’s funeral will cost about $2,500, Chacon said. Anyone interested in donating can mail a donation to Chacon or Ramos at Southern Police Station, 850 Bryant St., San Francisco, 94103. Chacon and Ramos can be reached by telephone at the Southern Station at (415) 553-1373.

amartin@examiner.comBay Area NewsLocal

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