JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Giving to others can mean so much to them, and maybe even more to the giver. At least that's what 7-year-old Raymond Warren learned Thursday.
He and many others gave donations to a family who lost their home in a fire on the Eastside earlier this month.
Raymond gave some of his favorite toys to the children he'd never met before but saw when Channel 4 reported on the fire Sept. 9.
"Raymond came running in and said, 'Mommy, kids, they need toys,'" said Cassandra Brownlee. "Got one of those plastic grocery bags and ran to his bedroom, filled it with cars and toys and said, 'Mommy, can you take this to them please?'"
The family who lost their home on East 14th Street was sitting inside it when it caught fire. The flames grew and turned just about everything they owned to ashes.
After the story aired, Channel 4 received nearly 60 emails and several phone calls from viewers volunteering to help.
"It's enough to keep us going, man. It kept us going and it came just in time," fire victim Kenny White said.
Viewers donated cash for the family to rent a new home, gift cards for them to buy school supplies, clothes and furniture for their rooms. Most of all, the family says, the love and support of those who helped them put smiles on their faces.
"It really touched my heart," White said. "I got a little mushy from time to time, but it's OK, we're human."
"Pay it forward is a good way to look at it," said Charles Alston, who donated to the family. "I had just gotten home from being in the hospital. I was sick and just had a really kind of miraculous recovery through a lot of people praying for me. And I got home, sat on the couch and said, 'OK, God, what do you want me to do?' And one of the first things I saw was that story, and it was kind of an easy thing to jump off the couch."
The family says "thank you" just isn't enough for those who've helped them get through such a tough time.
"Everything that happened in this situation, it really taught me that we need to be more concerned with our fellow people, as far as lending a hand out," White said. "Because without y'all, like I say, ain't no telling where we'd be still. Everything's going 100 percent better already. So it's a blessing, and my family thanks you once again. My family thanks everybody."
White said the value of the donations to his family is at least a few thousand dollars, but the love and support is priceless. He said his family will remember each and every person who opened their hearts to them.
If you would still like to donate to the family, email Channel 4's Vic Micolucci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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