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Strangers help fire victims have ‘Merry Christmas’

Posted December 24, 2008
Updated March 9, 2009

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— A Fayetteville family was bracing for a very dim Christmas this year. On Dec. 13, fire heavily damaged the apartment they had just moved into a week earlier.

The Christmas gifts bought for Amanda Deese's children were destroyed.

Fayetteville family loses Christmas gifts in fire Fayetteville family loses Christmas gifts in fire

The fire was sparked when fiance Tony Porter tried to start the fireplace.

"It was told that the chimney had stopped up and had backfired, and that it caught his pants leg (on fire),” Deese said.

Porter's leg burned. The Christmas tree burned. Much of the apartment on Homeplace Court burned. The Christmas presents – bought for children Christopher and Halie the day before – burned.

"These kids have been through so much,” Deese said.

The family didn't have renters insurance or money to buy new gifts, but then people came forth offering help.

"It just shocked me to see how many people had helped out,” Deese said.

First, their landlord gave them another home. Then the American Red Cross got their story out to the public, and people began bearing gifts. 

Even a single mom, struggling herself this year, came to help.

"She said, 'Even though I don't have much money, she still wanted to bring the kids some clothing,'” Deese said.

Christopher and Halie now have more gifts than before the fire.

"It makes me believe there are still some good-hearted people out there. There is a Christmas spirit still living,” Deese said

Porter spent a few hours in the hospital for burns to his leg, but he has since returned to work and is OK.

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