WOODLEAF — Before church Sunday, Frankie Taylor had to leave her house on Wetmore Road for a scheduled radiation treatment.
Her 9-year-old granddaughter, Breanna, wanted to stay home. Breanna has lived with Frankie since her mother died when she was little.
Frankie said she would call Breanna’s Uncle Rick next door and tell him to keep an eye out for her while she was gone. Breanna settled in on the couch in the living room to watch television until Frankie returned from her treatment.
About 9 a.m., Breanna smelled something burning and followed her nose to Frankie’s bedroom, where her grandmother’s bed was on fire.
She ran out of the house to Uncle Rick’s home. By the time Rick Taylor reached his mother’s two-story farmhouse and opened the front door, black smoke rolled out.
Flames also were visible in the windows.
A Woodleaf fireman, Taylor knew the house was fully involved. He immediately shut the door and called 911.
Firefighters could not save the house. A short in an electric blanket on Frankie’s bed may have started the fire.
Later Sunday, Woodleaf volunteer fireman Jay Moore, who’s a veterinarian, was able to find Breanna’s white bunny within the remains of the house.
Mr. Rabbit was scared but alive, having crawled to safety between a mattress and box spring.
While she lost most everything in the fire, except for Mr. Rabbit, Breanna’s other main concern was the three garbage bags full of shoes she had been collecting to donate to Rowan Helping Ministries.
The shoes were destroyed.
Inspired by a lesson from her Bible study teacher, Breanna had set a personal goal of collecting 100 pairs of shoes for the homeless shelter in Salisbury.
She attends Woodleaf Elementary School.
During the fire, Breanna’s aunt, Tonya Taylor, saw the little girl crying and learned about the shoes.
She posted something on Facebook about Breanna’s lost shoes, and within two hours, 40 people had responded with promises to help replenish Breanna’s supply.
Tonya Taylor was able to tell Breanna later she might not have to worry about having shoes for a donation. She also is a volunteer for the Woodleaf Fire Department, which is accepting shoe donations at the station.
People also are taking shoes to the Advance Auto Parts store (near Salisbury Mall), where Tonya works. Others are bringing them by her house, where Breanna and Frankie are living for now.
“It’s overwhelming what people have done,” Tonya Taylor says.
Tonya initially told Breanna by the time they’re done, they might need Uncle Rick’s truck to haul all the donated shoes to the shelter. But now she’s thinking they might require a bigger rig.
If the shoe donations prove too many for Rowan Helping Ministries, Tonya said, the family will take other shoes to the Storehouse for Jesus in Mocksville.
“Frankie and Breanna are doing well,” Tonya said Wednesday. “They’re really not in need of anything.”
Frankie Taylor carried good fire insurance on the house, and the insurance company already has given her money to buy necessities she and Breanna might need.
Tonya said they should be able to rebuild and replace everything without too many worries.
“I recommend everybody check into their fire insurance,” Tonya added.
Meanwhile, there’s been “such an outpouring of people bringing things,” Tonya Taylor says.
The Woodleaf Fire Department, American Red Cross, Woodleaf Baptist Church and many other groups and individuals have helped Frankie and Breanna immensely, she added.
The Taylors have set a deadline on shoe donations of Dec. 13, and hope they can deliver the shoes to RHM Dec. 14 or 15.
Frankie, Breanna and Mr. Rabbit will have Thanksgiving at Uncle Rick’s.
Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263.
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