“Bear one another’s burdens, and in this you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post
When Gary and Sally Taylor heard about the loss of Jody Sedberry’s home to fire in the early hours of Christmas Day, they knew immediately that they wanted to help.
The Taylors survived a house fire on May 22, 1988. They lost their home and two cars, as the fire started in the garage when lightning struck.
“People just reached out,” Sally remembers. “The kindness was just overwhelming. You learn what gratitude is, what heartfelt thanks is.”
Jody, too, has learned that during the past month.
He spent Christmas Eve with his mother, Donna Cesario, and her husband, Larry. He planned to spend Christmas morning and then return to his home on Primrose Drive, built by Larry some 35 years ago.
Instead, the family received a call early that morning to come to the house. It was on fire.
Jody only had the clothes he wore. He hadn’t even taken a toothbrush with him. He threw on one of Larry’s coats.
The house has been declared a total loss.
That’s when the Taylors and other members of St. John’s Lutheran Church — where both families are members — stepped in to help.
Church members had the opportunity to donate money to Jody to help him start over. Sally decided to contact women in the church and organize a “pounding” — an old Southern tradition in which “a pound of sugar and a pound of flour” and other household items were given to young couples just starting out. Of course, this pounding would include much more than pantry staples.
The corner of the Taylors’ garage soon filled up with things for Jody. They were pantry supplies — he loves to cook and was trained as a chef at Johnson & Wales. But there were also clothes, cookbooks, towels, sheets, blankets, glassware, paintings, lamps, paper towels, napkins — many items Jody would need to get set up in a new place. He’s now renting a one-bedroom apartment in Fulton Heights while the family waits to settle with their insurance company.
“It’s been overwhelming,” Jody says, “the amount of calls from friends and family. Everybody has been so helpful.”
Like everyone’s home, he says, his home was special.
“I was proud of it,” he notes. “It did not look like a college apartment.”
Jody had been the recipient of the Weinhold family’s memorabilia. He had the train set that his grandfather, Don Weinhold Sr., built. It had a stand with tracks hidden in the Christmas tree branches.
The loss was doubly tragic for Jody’s mom, Donna, who lost her brother, Don, along with his wife and two children in a plane crash on Dec. 26, 1991, nearly 20 years to the day of the fire.
“I cried like a baby on Christmas Day,” Donna says. The fire marshal told the family that the fire started under the master bedroom, and that Jody would not have survived if he had been at home.
“I just can’t thank God enough for not taking my Jody,” Donna says. “He’s so special to me.”
She continued, “There are so many things to be thankful for. It’s gonna take him a while to get used to the fact that he’s OK.”
And that he’s living elsewhere.
“When I wake up in my new place, I think, ‘Where am I?’ ” Jody says. “But you just keep going.” Susan Shinn is communications assistant at St. John’s Lutheran Church.
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