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Just in time for Christmas, family of 8 gifted new home: 'I can't stop smiling'

Just in time for Christmas, family of 8 gifted new home: 'I can't stop smiling'
Posted at 5:26 PM, Dec 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 12:53:40-05

PETERSBURG, Va. -- A Petersburg mother of seven is feeling extra thankful this holiday season as her family was selected to receive a new home.

Before the stroke of luck, the family fell on hard times and at one point, was living in a hotel. Now, many of Canitra Thompson's concerns have been alleviated.

"I was literally in shock for a while," Thompson said. "I can't stop smiling. I'm so excited, I'm so happy, so happy. This is Christmas for me for a long time because I just never thought I would end up right here."

Thompson filled with joy as she was selected by Tri-Cities Habitat for Humanity for a new home.

"So this opportunity is like, wow. We can finally have a home, we ain't gotta go nowhere else," Thompson said.

As with all Habitat Homes, there are strings attached to receiving the new home. Canitra will have to put in 300 hours of Sweat Equity into the building of her house and then 100 hours helping the next house to be built.

"I'm excited because I feel like it still gives us an opportunity to help someone while someone is helping us," Thompson said.

To help with the cost of the project, Dominion Energy donated $30,000.

Those in the community anticipate that the positive effect of this project home will have a ripple throughout the neighborhood.

"It has the transformation effect is what I call it. When people see this type of renovation going on in their neighborhood, it definitely sparks interest from investors and from property owners to say, hey, let's step up our game here and put these resources necessary to improve the neighborhood," Petersburg Mayor Sam Parham said.

Neighbors are optimistic about how the home could impact the greater community.

"Hopefully it will get the other landlords out here that's got houses just sitting around doing nothing. Maybe it will motivate them to do the same thing," Rhonda Nicholas, who lives close to where the home will be built, said.

"It's work that needs to be done on several homes in the neighborhood and it would be nice to make it just a family-oriented place if they would fix them up and give people an opportunity to have a nice place to live," Sandilen Stewart, who lives near where the home will be built said.

Habitat for Humanity depends on a host of volunteers to help complete their projects.

For Canitra, if weather and volunteers go as planned, she and her family could be moving into their new house this time next year.