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Help Springs Forth from the Ashes

When Debra Pearce, a Coastal employee for 17 years, went out to pick up a pizza, she had no idea her life would change forever when she returned.

She remembers the evening as if it were yesterday. It began normal enough. With 3 hungry kids at home and nothing to make, she headed to her local pizza shop to grab some dinner. While waiting, she noticed a fire truck go by but didn’t think anything of it.

As she drove home, she saw the fire truck near her home. “I didn’t think it was my house. No one thinks it is going to be them,” Debra says with a half laugh. “But as I got closer, I realized they were at my house. And that’s when I panicked. I froze.”

Immediately she began to worry about her 3 kids and her parents—all home when she left. But she saw her dad on the other side of the street and he said everyone was able to get out of the house in time.

The house, sadly, didn’t fare as well.

“We had lived in that house for more than 15 years. Before it was mine, it was my parent’s. And just like that everything—the report cards, the kids’ art projects—all of it was gone.”

Because she lived down a long, narrow driveway, the firemen, try as they might, were unable to get to her house to put out the fire. “We just had to sit there and watch it burn,” Debra notes.

While the memories can never be replaced, Debra’s Coastal family made sure everything else was.

“My bosses were very generous in giving me time away to get my affairs in order. But when I came back…wow!”  Debra says, her voice filling with emotion. “That’s when I really saw the depth of their caring.”

While she was away, her coworkers had taken it upon themselves to ensure that anything that could be replaced was. They donated clothes, furniture, and money. Many of them tapped into their networks—churches, extended family, all people who didn’t even know Debra.

“It seemed like every day I came into work, there was something else on my desk. Cards of encouragement, gift cards, just a kind word when I needed it,” Debra says. “The employees here care about each other. They didn’t think twice. They just did it.”

Many of the donations were anonymous. “Think about that,” she says. “These people didn’t even know me or my family, but took it upon themselves to make our lives better.”

Now Debra and her family have moved into a new house, where they’re making new memories. But they remain forever grateful to all those people who helped her family in their time of need. “Those people were so generous, so selfless. They didn’t want credit. Just to help. I’ll never forget that.”