What were your plans for New Year's Eve last year - can you remember? For you, New Years is a memory at this point, but for a Cabarrus County family of five the memories continue through Valentines Day. New Year's Eve 2009 was the night their house burned.

The dinner dishes were being cleared from the table - plans for a DVD, snuggle time on the couch, maybe a board game or popcorn with lots of butter - the plans are vague now because cracked wiring under a bedroom floor was beginning to send sparks into the structure of this three bedroom home. This family of 5 was about to experience a life-altering change. The cornerstone of their family structure, their home, was under attack from within and the consequences would affect more than just ‘an evening at home'. Three children, their parents, their pets and all their physical possessions would be threatened by a house fire. A house fire started by faulty wiring would bring them a much different New Year than they had planned.

SJB was enjoying a quite evening at home - nothing special planned for the New Year holiday, but time with family. Probably planned to ‘turn in early' with her husband. And then the phone rings - the DAT phone. SJB is an on-call disaster volunteer. She has agreed to allow her family time to be interrupted by the disasters of other families within our community. She listens to the scenario from the firefighter, learns the location, family composition, etc and then she gathers her disaster supplies and heads out to the fire scene.

The firemen, in their big coats & helmets, using loud equipment with flashing lights, are working to extinguish the fire. A lot of action, sounds, smells and memories form within the minds of the three children (all under 6 years) as they watch from the sidewalk. The family huddles together watching their home - the place where they built memories, stored their treasures, and planned a future - falter under the intense heat, pounds of water, and wiping flames of fire. The parents wonder ...what next, how do we recovery? The children wonder - well it is hard to know what they are thinking. They have never experience anything like this before. We can only wonder at the effect this fire will have on them, but we can ensure they are safe, secure and cared for immediately. Bring the support of the American Red Cross, volunteer SJB arrives with blankets, comfort gifts and a solution to where they would sleep that night, how they would get clothes for the next days, and were their meals would come from. Also solutions to lost glasses, medications, or school supplies; emotional support, long term housing, a recovery plan - all these things need to be sorted through. And the American Red Cross is there for this family, their children and their future.

Special Thanks to Speedway Children's Charities, Charlotte Chapter for providing the financial support for these children, and for the other 8 we have helped with your grant this year. The American Red Cross responds to disasters any day at any time - holiday, week day - when ever the disaster strikes. Our community response is ‘fueled' by dedicated volunteers and the charitable gifts of groups like SCC. On behalf of this New Year's family, thank you for your support. Learn more about our Red Cross or become involved as a supporter or volunteer at http://www.cabarruscountyredcross.org