A caring community: Destin and beyond steps up for family in need after fire

Jennie McKeon

After a house fire in Destin late last week, the community has gone above and beyond to make sure Sarah Fleming and her family are taken care of this Christmas.

The charity started with her neighbor on Primrose Circle, Toby Hanna. Hanna hadn't even met Fleming before until she offered to help her clean up the morning after the fire. Wearing work boots and paint-splattered jeans and t-shirt, she assisted in hauling out any salvageable items. With the help of fellow neighbor, Linda Carter, she put together donations of clothes for the three kids, Lillian, 8, Miles, 11, and Moses, 6 as well as a $100 Walmart gift card.

The Log told the Flemings’ story in Saturday's Dec. 14 issue, leaving Hanna's number available to readers willing to contribute. Since then, she said the phone hasn’t stopped ringing. A Facebook page was even created to spread the word, which has more than 500 likes.

After reading the story, Kathy Fyock, a family-friend of the Flemings, immediately reached out to get the children's sizes. So far, she's collected three bags of clothes.

"I read the story and teared up at work," she said. "I just couldn't imagine going through that. I want to do whatever I can to help."

It was Hanna's instinct that led her to help the Fleming family.

"Like anybody and everybody, I would hope people would help me in the same situation," she said.

Hanna's goodwill has created a domino effect beyond Primrose Circle. Just to name a few examples, Another Broken Egg and Hog's Breath have donated meals and local organization, Mission Love Seeds has offered their services to the family. A registry of needed goods has been setup at Target and Southern Bullion Coin & Jewelry in Destin is holding a Gold Party Fundraiser for the Fleming family Dec. 18-20.

"In showing the Fleming family love and helping them rebuild their lives, we are giving the family hope," said Barbi Carroll, founder and president of Mission Love Seeds.

Beyond Destin, Elephant Walk has become a donation spot.

Seeing the community come together to help someone in need has really touched Hanna, she said.

"It's brought tears to my eyes to see how people have stepped up, just in our neighborhood alone," she explained. "The outreach in Destin and beyond is amazing. It's true Christmas spirit."

 HOW TO HELP: Visit facebook.com/blessingsforsarahflemming for donation sites and needed items. You can also contact Fyock at 200-3347. For more information on Mission Love Seeds, visit missionloveseeds.org.



“A huge thank you to everyone for the outpouring of so much love and support. We are humbled, and as we sit here in donated clothes given to us by people we don't even know, I feel like the wealthiest woman in the world. Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts. The kids are safe, we are all going to be OK. Right now, we are going to hold each others hands and try to sleep. The lesson today? People are good. People are just good and want to help. Thank you all for helping us get through this.”