By Helen Ford Wallace
What a blessing it is to live in Oklahoma City! When tragedy strikes, so many people jump in to help!
Our profound thanks to everyone who has helped Lillie-Beth and her three children the past four days. I don’t know everyone’s name and hopefully the “angels” that God sent do not go unthanked. But please know, that we appreciate every prayer, call, text, and outpouring from all of you.
Lillie-Beth’s home burned Sunday night. When I arrived after the call, I found the children standing on the curb in front of their house, amidst 8 firetrucks. They had no shoes, and the boys had no shirts. They did not get out with their eyeglasses, phones, or even a picture off the wall as they ran out the front door.
In 30 minutes, the neighbors convened. One took the dog home. Sonny (don’t know last name) and her friend took sizes of children and went to WalMart to buy shoes, shorts, shirts and toothbrushes (plus water and I don’t know what else) and they had shoes by midnight. She also took them home with her to spend the night. Lillie-Beth’s sister-in-law, Angie, was right there helping call the insurance company and standing by the children. The children’s aunt from Norman, Kerrie, came with clothes (she knew their sizes) and this was at 1 a.m. All of the neighbors stood by to help in any way. They were not concerned about their own houses burning, just about Lillie-Beth and her children. What great people! The children’s dad drove in from Texas and was there by 4 a.m.
Then, Monday, the outpouring of love began! Another neighbor, Todd, with Jennifer, set up two things: a fund for immediate help since they lost everything and a place for people to bring clothes they might have. Todd said ” if everyone gives a little, she might have alot”. Friends, and strangers, brought clothes. Many, many came by the burned house to see what they could do…I saw Todd, Ann, Jim, Kim, Christina, Summer, and Summer’s mom Kellylynn, Robbie, Stephanie, Kara, Elaine, Maria, Stacey, Louisa, kela and her mom, just all of the people that Lillie-Beth loves and talks about. Other friends, including churches like Acts 2 United Methodist Church and First Christian Church of Edmond, called to help, now or later. The children’s school friends came back to the house with them after school. All truly wonderful, because those kids knew they were not alone. People are wonderful!
Lillie-Beth’s and the children’s friends (and I cannot remember all of the names) jumped in and I really don’t know all of things they did, but a few that I heard and saw…Allison, cleaning out the garage refrigerator to take frozen foods home to her house and then putting it all back in because she was told that soot ruins foods; Margaret, running every errand including getting glasses for the 13 year old; Kathryn and Curtis, finding a student apartment for them of the Oklahoma Christian campus and organizing the house. They were able to stay together there for awhile and did not have to run around to find furniture for a rent house or stay in a hotel. They each had a bedroom. Amazing!
On Monday, which was one of the children’s birthdays: Ella was 13, there were 3 birthday cakes at the apartment. It was decorated with balloons, banners, gifts , a Mexican dinner in the refrigerator (Ella was born on Cinyo de Mayo) and a new microwave, makeup arranged for Lillie-Beth, a television (because the Thunder game was that night and Bennett and Ramey and Ella might have wanted to watch), a phone for Lillie-Beth, tubs and notebooks for organizing papers and clothes. (And I was not there to witness all of the outpouring of these generous spirits. ) Lillie-Beth’s brother, Ford, stood with her when the insurance man came. He also served dinner for the birthday.
All week, the help and support and love have continued. One thing that I do know, we will never, ever forget the kindness of people and the helpful spirit of this town, state and friends throughout the US.
On Thursday…her sister, Lee-Ann, arrived with great organizing skills. All help, noticed and unnoticed, has been such a blessing. Lillie-Beth and her children, and all family members, are so very grateful! Please know that!
Actually you don’t know what you have until you don’t have it. There are many friends and relatives who stopped their own lives to join with Lillie-Beth, including friends at The Oklahoman and NewsOk and at Lillie-Beth’s new work, the Greater OKC Chamber. We love all of you and thank you for the miracle of friendship!