Neighbors spread holiday cheer to wildfire victims

December 1, 2011 8:18:57 PM PST
The Texas wildfire may seen like a distant memory, but it was only a few months ago when neighbors in Magnolia watched helplessly as fast-moving flames devoured through everything they owned. Now, those same neighbors are coming together to make sure everyone has some joy this holiday season.

Several families who lived there are now starting over. But this holiday, they're not doing it alone.

"Christmas is my favorite time of year and his fave time of year, and we always have a house full of family," Lyndall Barr said.

It's hard for Barr and her family to go from a full house on Christmas to no house at all.

"I need all the prayers that we can get," Barr said.

Their Magnolia home was ravaged by the tri-county fire two months ago.

"It hurts to lose everything you've spent years gathering," Karen McClure said.

It's a feeling McClure knows intimately. The same fires wiped out her Remington Forest home.

"Everything was on the ground -- ashes, debris, that's it. Everything was burned, gone," McClure said.

The two women had never met until Thursday night -- and not by chance, but through an arrangement.

"Christmas for me was tonight, I mean that was the true meaning Christmas," Realtor Razelle Smith said.

The Barrs, who are still homeless themselves, adopted McClure, 6-year-old Zane and 6-month-old Zayden for Christmas.

"This was our way of paying it forward and bringing joy to somebody else," Barr said.

They bought gifts the family needs or would just enjoy.

"Just to see his face when he saw the bicycle -- that was all I needed. That makes my Christmas this year," Barr said.

Smith paired the Barrs with McClure and her kids through a group she started called Families Helping Families.

"That's what it is, families donating and families receiving," Smith said.

It's a Christmas McClure and her husband couldn't have given their kids otherwise.

"Normally I'm excited and buying things in advance and I haven't been able to slow down long enough to even try to do anything like that so I've been worried how it's gonna be," McClure said.

But now, she has one less thing to worry about while her boys enjoy their new gifts from new friends.

"Very happy, at the same time, I wish I could do the same for them," McClure said.

They're friends who can relate and simply wanted to help.

"I still have hope that we'll do Christmas 2012," Barr said.

Families Helping Families has an entire warehouse storage unit full of gifts that they'd like to give away this Christmas. They say there's still time for a family in need or of a family who'd like to donate. Donations can be dropped off at Gleannloch Storage seven days a week. Just go to the office and tell them you have a donation.


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