School community rallies to help family left homeless after fire

Posted at 6:54 AM, Apr 25, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-25 06:56:50-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - It's a night Natalyn Hicks will never forget. It was April 19. The North Side mother heard a loud noise and within minutes her 3rd Avenue home was on fire.

The Richmond mom knew she only had a short time to get out of the burning home as flames and smoke filled the home.

Her first thought was for her 4-year-old son Micah who is disabled and can't walk on his own.

"I had a Deer Park water in my hand and so I poured it on his shirt and wrapped it around his face," she said. "I was thinking I was going to have to jump out of the window or something, because the flames were under the stairs."

She said she frantically raced down the steps, fell, got back up and made it to the door.

Her son had undergone surgery earlier that day.

"He was already going to have to miss school and the principal knew that. When the fire happened I had to call the principal and tell him Micah would be out a little longer because our home caught on fire," added Hicks.

Hicks told CBS 6 the house is now condemned, she can't go back inside.

She said the fire destroyed her son's medical equipment, including his specialized walker. She said her family has no insurance.

In the days since the fire, Hicks said there felt like a dark cloud over their heads. But she added things have started to brighten, thanks to the help of some generous strangers at one Richmond school.

When administrators at Linwood Holton Elementary School found out about the fire, it didn't take long for them to act and help one of their students and his family.

Principal David Hudson said us he sent out an emergency automated phone message to parents.

"Within an hour I got calls and donations started coming in. I'm not one bit surprised because we have some very caring parents, staff and students here at this school," Hudson explained.

In the past week students have brought bags of clothing for Micah, slippers, toiletries, backpacks, school supplies, gift cards and more.

"I just think it's awesome that they would do this for someone they don't even know" said a choked up Hicks. She said words can't express their gratitude and it means the world to her and Micah to have so many caring people on their side.

Wednesday night is the last night that the family can say in a hotel paid for by the Red Cross.

Now, Hicks said, she's looking to find a new place to call home. Principal Hudson said the school's PTA  is working with the family to get them the medical supplies Micah needs.

"I just can't imagine what they're going through. I can't imagine losing everything. We just felt like we could help and it was important to us. It was for a good cause" said Teresa Mortimer. Tuesday morning Mortimer and her two children dropped off donation for the family.

Principal Hudson said anyone who wants to donate items for Micah and his family can drop them off at Holton Elementary School.

Holton is located at 1600 West Laburnum Avenue in Richmond. The phone number is 804.228-5310.