COEUR d'ALENE - It started with an ice chest under a pavilion at Bluegrass Park and just keeps getting cooler.
Classmates of an 8-year-old burn victim raised a jar full of cash selling Popsicles at the park on Wednesday. After hearing about the fundraiser organized by the Sorensen Elementary students, Java on Sherman volunteered to donate additional Popsicles so students can continue the fundraiser during Friday's Fourth of July Parade.
Students will be selling Popsicles at both of Java's locations in downtown Coeur d'Alene.
"Please help," said Sorensen third-grader Luke Sharon. "We're selling Otter Pops to get money for the people that got hurt and got burned."
Luke and his twin sister, Emma, organized Wednesday's fundraiser at Bluegrass Park with the help of their mother, Melissa Sharon. Both children have been classmates of Joshua Emerson since kindergarten.
Joshua and his 4-year-old neighbor, Brooklynne White, were badly burned Saturday after a gas can caught fire and exploded during a backyard gathering. Both remain hospitalized at Seattle's Harborview Medical Center.
"It's a really helpless feeling for an 8-year-old to have his friend hurting in a hospital and not know what they can do," Melissa Sharon said. "This is a tangible way they can help their friend. Every little bit helps."
Luke, Emma and other students, along with parents and Sorensen teachers and staff, gathered at Bluegrass Park to sell Popsicles and create get well cards and posters for Joshua.
"He's a really nice boy," Emma said. "I'm really sad. I made a pop-up card that has a heart."
Luke drew an "Angry Bird" on the cover of his card with the words "Sweet," "Cool" and "Wow" inside in colorful stickers.
"You are awesome," he wrote. And, on the back: "P.S. You are the awesomest!"
"We play tag," Luke said. "We've been in classes together all the years of school."
Joshua's family has set up a fundraising site in his name at giveforward.com. As of Wednesday afternoon, $2,600 had been raised.
Nearly $5,000 has been raised for both kids and their families at the online giving site gofundme.com.
Joshua, who suffered burns to about 20 percent of his body, is now breathing on his own without help of a breathing tube, according his uncle, J.J. Honeycutt.
"He's feeling better," Honeycutt said. "He's able to talk now and answer questions."
Doctors are still evaluating his injuries and treatment options, he said.
Honeycutt said the community has been very generous and supportive, not only financially, but in prayer and well-wishing.