FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Nearly a dozen families are struggling to make ends meet after an Easter weekend fire demolished their homes. One of those residents is a new mother of twins, whose husband is overseas fighting the war on terror.
Just 21 years old, Ashley O'Neal moved to Fayetteville in November. Her husband deployed in February and she gave birth to twins in March. Then, on Good Friday, she lost her home after a fire damaged three condominiums at the Crossings at Morganton in Fayetteville.
O'Neal was living in the condominium with her newborns, her mother and two cats.
"You know, you look around still at everybody's apartment, and you see and you look up and yours in gone," O'Neal said. "It's a hard thing."
One of her cats did not survive the fire and the rest of the family was out of a home, but they were not out of help. Village Baptist Church, where the family attends, collected thousands of dollars and countless items.
"They cried just about every time we went over to share with them, they were so appreciative," said Linda McGirt, of Village Baptist Church.
Church members pitched in -- no matter how old or young. A group of 4-year-olds in Sunday School decided to pool their savings. They later came up with $53 to give to the family.
"We probably cried more over the giving and the helping than the loss almost," said Wendy Porter, Ashley's mother.
The family just got a new home, along with furniture, thanks to donations. O'Neal and her mother said they have gotten so much help that they plan to give items to other needy families soon.