SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) – Two teenagers who lost most of their belongings in a house fire last month won’t have to go back to school empty-handed, thanks to the help of a family friend.
The twin teens, along with their mother, were displaced on July 20 when the blaze damaged their house on E. 56th Street.
Savannah Fire Rescue firefighters arrived at the house sometime after 10 a.m. to find smoke and flames streaming from the side of the one-story house.
The fire started after one of the teens knocked over a gas can while moving a lawnmower. A flame from a nearby hot water heater ignited the fumes.
The twin brother and sister, both 11th graders at Sol C. Johnson High School, were the only ones home at the time, according to Savannah Fire Rescue.
They were able to escape unharmed, but their puppy succumbed to smoke inhalation, despite rescuers’ attempt to resuscitate him.
The family has had to live elsewhere since then.
A local mother knew one of the teens, who is in the school’s band with her own daughter.
“She’s my daughter’s best friend, and she began to tell me that over the course of the summer, that her house burned down, and they lost everything and that her puppy died,” said Savannah resident Teheara Baker.
“Me being a mother of three, I have a heart, because I’ve been in that situation before,” she told News 3, adding that she and her children were once homeless.
“I could not go on without helping her in any way that I could,” Baker said.
Through the organization that she founded, Stopping the Violence Against Black Males, she decided to ask for help collecting donations for the twin teens so they would have everything they needed to begin the upcoming school year.
A Facebook post that received over 50 comments helped jumpstart her campaign to collect school supplies and uniforms for the students.
“If anyone can help, please let me know, please get back to me as soon as you can,” Baker pleaded to her community via the post. “This is a very sweet, highly intelligent, smart young lady, and she deserves a helping hand.”
So far, Baker has collected back-to-school essentials including uniforms, paper, notebooks, pens and mechanical pencils from generous donors wanting to assist the family.
She intends to deliver the donations to the teens on Friday, Aug. 2, before the school year starts. It was intended to be a surprise, but she says her daughter let the cat out of the bag and told her best friend about her mother’s plan.
“It will be like Christmas morning to them because I know they’re going to enjoy it,” Baker said. “It’s stuff that they didn’t have, and stuff that they need.”
If you would like to donate back-to-school items to the teens, contact Teheara Baker by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.