HOPEWELL, VA (WWBT) - A Hopewell family's home went up in flames just 12 days before Christmas. A year later, a group called "Fighting more than Fire" surprised the family with a brand-new house.
"I'm overwhelmed. I'm so grateful," said fire victim Melody Bennett. "I was so distraught because my parents had just died, and left this to me, and it was all gone in the blink of an eye."
Bennett says the family did not have insurance. She is happy fire crews stepped in to help.
"It is the best Christmas that I will ever have," said Bennett.
This was a community effort. For example, a Richmond fire department donated the kitchen cabinets, and a local family donated the living room furniture.
"This was the soul behind the organization," said Fighting more than Fire founder Jesse Baust. "To see somebody at their worst time and pick them up and give them a new start to their life. We've never done anything like this before, and going from putting the fire out to actually moving the family in is just amazing."
Hopewell firefighters stopped by for the big reveal.
"To come back to see the family move back into their house that has been totally renovated...It's a great feeling," said Captain Kieth Kennedy.
Group members say this is just the beginning of many projects to come.
"This was our first project, and we learned a lot from it," said Brad Stewart. "So now we can go back and streamline it and help the next family this coming up year."
Partners in Christ also helped with the renovation.
"This is about giving back to the community and showing what the grace of God can do if he's allowed to work in the community," said Buddy Mitchell with Partners in Christ.
Fighting more than Fire says Eagle Bay Hardscape Products, Allied Building Products, Elite Windows, AAA Discount Floors, and Twin Rivers Apartments were also instrumental helping bring this project to fruition.
The group says the budget was about $40,000, but they say that because of donations they were able to keep it down to about $20,000. Click the following link if you would like to help other families: http://www.fightingmorethanfire.org/
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