A helping hand for the Holidays

            The Webster family-Tanya, Doug, Dawson ad Taliyah-arrived in sunny California at 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve. Instead of hitting up a beach or checking out the local attractions, the family made their way to Santa Rosa on a mission: to do whatever they could to help those affected by fire raging across the state since October.

            “There’s so much going on in our country in terms of natural disasters,” Tanya Webster said. “Originally, we wanted to go to Florida, but there wasn’t much myself and my daughter could do to help at this time, so we arranged to help out with another family. Unfortunately, they pulled out of committing to the winter and instead will go in the spring. We had everything ready to go and we intended to whatever we could to help and use our weeks’ time wisely.”

            As the family made their way their way to Santa Rosa from their cabin 40 miles away, they got a sense of what this and other cities in California were going through. Smoke from other fires could be smelled many miles away. Their first glimpses of the destruction also afforded them a look at a huge painted plywood sign stating “we will rise from the ashes.”

            “The hope for Santa Rosa for tomorrow was evident,” Webster said. “There was deep thankfulness for the 10,000 first responders and firefighers who came to their rescue that frightful morning that the fires came.”

            The Websters joined other volunteers to run a Christmas dinner for over 600 people. Doug and Dawson helped with the food, while Tanya and Taliyah painted faces of children that attended. They also stayed to help with the “daunting task” of cleaning up afterward. It was at this dinner that Tanya spoke with a woman that had been affected by the fire on October 10.

            “She mentioned smelling smoke before laying down for the night, I’m guessing around midnight,” Webster said. “In just a couple of hours, the fire revealed its monstrous self as she awoke to grab her rental agreement, some dirty laundry and their precious little dog to escape.”

            The women knocked on doors to warn her neighbors and then made her way out of the area of town being engulfed in flames. When she came back to find her place in rubble, with only a small owl statue that had been a gift surviving the flames. Her home had been rented, leaving her with no insurance. 

            “She said this Christmas was different for her while smiling wide and clearly at peace,” Webster said. “She has a different place to call home now.” 

Please view the January 9 edition of The News-Review for the full story.