Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 31, 2011

By Shelley Smith
In 1953, Estelle Griffin and her family were in a serious car accident that nearly severed her daughter’s legs. The family’s car was totaled and because they had no money, they didn’t know how they would get transportation.
The community where Griffin lived came together and helped her family purchase a car.
Fifty-seven years later, she’s returning the favor.
Griffin wrote a check for a bright red 2007 Mazda 3 Thursday afternoon — a car she wasn’t buying for herself, but for Joey, Samantha and Zachary Doolittle, the family who lost 11-week-old Jacob in a house fire two weeks ago in East Spencer.
“We were just like them,” Griffin said. “People were so good to us, and God did see that we did have a car. Now this will help me pay back some of the kindness that people showed us.”
Griffin said she was going to start her search at car dealerships on the east end of Jake Alexander Boulevard. But she said something told her to start at Team Chevrolet.
And she’s glad she did, she said, because the staff found her a car, adorned it with a big red bow and balloons, and had it ready for the Doolittles in about an hour.
“All of these guys have been wonderful,” she said. “And it shows they have compassion for (the Doolittles), too.”
Joey Doolittle, who is staying with his mother in East Spencer, got to the dealership first, and waited anxiously for Samantha and Zachary to get there from Samantha’s mother’s home in Kannapolis.
As Samantha’s mother rolled into the entrance of the dealership, Joey was waiting, and ran beside the car smiling as Samantha arrived to find the family’s amazing gift from Griffin.
Samantha cried when she saw the car, and then she gave Griffin a huge hug.
“It’s just so amazing,” she said. “I can’t believe it.”
Griffin told the Doolittles she wanted to help, and that it was the least she could do knowing the loss they suffered in the fire.
“I felt like this is what God wanted me to do,” Griffin said.
By the end of the paperwork, Griffin and her daughter, Patsy Wryals, became good friends with the Doolittles, and they promised to keep in touch.
“You guys are family now,” Samantha told them. “It’s just so wonderful. Thank you.”
“God did it,” Griffin said. “Don’t thank me, thank God.”
• • •
The Doolittle family is currently trying to find a way to receive donations, and more information should be available today on how to give.
They have also set up the “Doolittle Fire Fund” at Wachovia Bank, where monetary donations can be made at any branch.