LARGO – When a dad dozed off for a brief moment after watching a football game on television, his twin 4-year-old sons found a lighter and changed the family’s life forever.
The boys ignited some paper. Up in flames rose all the family’s possessions.
Indeed, Terrell Gary, his wife and five children lost everything just over a week ago except their upbeat attitudes and desire to move on toward a better future.
“I didn’t even realize there was a fire until a neighbor called me, saying smoke was coming out of my house,” said Gary. “Then all of the sudden, I looked at the ceiling, and it was out of control.”
Fortunately, Gary said, he and the twins made it out of the home unharmed. No one else was there at the time. The house, which was gutted, is located at 13697 120th St. N.
Although the twins still have some answering to do for their actions, Gary is adamant about putting the incident behind the family.
“I know I’m the leader of the household,” said Gary. “If I’m down in the dumps, they will be, too. We need to move forward and be happy that no one was hurt.”
Donations would help lighten family’s load
When asked what the family needs, Gary said, with a laugh, “Oh, anything would be nice.”
Along with mom and dad, the family has a 16-year-old boy; 15-year-old girl; 8-year-old girl and a pair of 4-year-old twins.
Gary added that many people are pitching in to help already. The Red Cross put the family up for a few days, a neighbor let the family stay in his house and his neighbors dished up a barbecue and fish luncheon to gather donations and funds.
“The community support has been great,” said Gary.
And, more help is in the works.
“I am trying to get some different agencies or individuals to help with clothes and presents for the children and parents,” said Derek Coombs, minister to children and families at A Place for New Beginnings, Christ Presbyterian Church. “Furniture cannot be put into the home, however, as it is a total shell.”
Coombs works with Gary at the United Parcel Service.
“As an amusing aside, one of the UPS employees in Orlando, shaved his head and earned $300 for the family,” said Coombs. “He had a full head of hair, curly as all get out.”
Coombs realizes it is close to Christmas but would appreciate any donations given to the Gary family.
“I know it’s a short fuse, but a lot of people are trying to pull together to make things happen for this nice family,” said Coombs.
Generous spirits still needed after Christmas
Even if citizens can’t make a donation before Christmas, the family could benefit by a lot of community support to rebuild their lives and home even after the gifts are unwrapped and holiday decorations are put away.
“If people help, it would help make a disastrous holiday into somewhat of a miracle,” said Coombs.
Anyone interested in helping the Gary family is welcome to contact Derek Coombs, minister to children and families at the Christ Presbyterian Church at 584-8695 or on his cell phone at 687-8428. Toys and donated items can be dropped off at Christ Presbyterian Church, 3115 Dryer Ave., Largo; or the UPS hub, 5720 126th Ave., Clearwater.