Family blessed, grateful
THE generosity of Byron Shire residents saved Christmas for a family who lost almost everything in a house fire on November 27.
Elicia Maxwell, Tom Smith and their children Bethany, Connor and Isabella had almost the entire uninsured contents of their rented Yamble Dr, Ocean Shores home destroyed in the blaze, including Tom's Nissan Skyline.
Most of the kids' Christmas gifts, which Elicia had just picked up from lay-by, were also lost.
In an epic effort, family, friends, local schools, churches and businesses and Tom's employer Baulderstone rallied with donations of clothing and household items.
Such was the overwhelming support that the family moved into a new rental home at South Golden Beach on December 16 that was almost entirely furnished with donations of electrical goods, furniture, kitchen items and even a snorkel, flippers and Santa hat.
Elicia said Baulderstone had carted hundreds of items donated by employees.
Bethany, who attends Mullumbimby High School, had on several occasions arrived home with bags of clothes donated by fellow students, some of whom she didn't even know.
"Every day she was wide-eyed and completely taken aback," Elicia marvelled.
Friends bought new Christmas presents for the kids.
"With something like this you realise the goodness of people. When something bad happens people chip in.
"We feel very blessed and very grateful to be living in this area.
"Lots of people go through devastating situations and they don't have the amount of support we've had.
"It made us not feel so alone in the world.
"It's made Tom and I want to do something to give something back. We've got to make sure we keep passing it on."
NSW Fire and Rescue have been unable to determine the cause of the blaze which started amid household items placed in the yard for a garage sale.
Elicia and her three children were alerted to the fire by a neighbourhood child knocking on their front door.
They managed to escape with just a handful of belongings.