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Norrisville community work detail helps family displaced by Christmas Day fire

Norrisville community work detail helps family displaced by Christmas Day fire
Dozens of volunteers from around Harford, Baltimore and York counties came out to help clean up the site of a house fire on Christmas Day, as many area businesses donated materials, food and equipment. (Courtesy Norrisville Volunteer Fire / Provided photo)

As the sun rose over Norrisville on Saturday morning, folks were packing their cars with shovels and wheelbarrows, donning their extra layers and heading for West Heaps Road.

Not all of them knew Darla, Jim, Branson and Jenna Smith, but they came anyway. Some knew them from Scouts, some from school or band, some came just because it was the right thing to do.

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The Smith family's home was destroyed by a fire on Christmas Day. The family was displaced and lost most of their possessions.

It wasn't long before we could tell that something special was happening. Trailers and Dumpsters were in place, ready to haul away what couldn't be salvaged. Edgewood's Home Depot came with water, gloves, shovels and more. Someone, thank goodness, thought to donate portable potties.

Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company Chief Brandon Watkins gave us instructions, and we began the work at 8 a.m. Young and old, experienced and not, from all walks of life -- about 200 in all -- joined together, sifting through debris, finding coins, pictures, a few keepsakes. One thoughtful person made it her job to wipe the soot off all the pictures, so they looked new again. Folks filled wheelbarrows with the ashes and carted them away.

Volunteers cleaned up the site of the Christmas Day house fire near Norrisville that displaced the Smith Family. They salvaged what they could of the family's possessions and cleared away the rubble.
Volunteers cleaned up the site of the Christmas Day house fire near Norrisville that displaced the Smith Family. They salvaged what they could of the family's possessions and cleared away the rubble. (Courtesy Norrisville Volunteer Fire / Provided photo)

Larger equipment also helped, and the torches and saws came out to cut up what remained of the base of the Smiths' manufactured home. Folks lined up to help carry off-site and onto a truck trailer.

The food also came pouring in: first breakfast snacks from the local churches and beyond, then lunch from local businesses. In fact, the work went so miraculously quickly, that we were done less than three hours. Assistant Chief Roy Miller reminded us that we should not leave before we talked to our neighbors, and took time to be thankful for each other and our whole community. So we stayed, because everyone knew we were where we were supposed to be, and we were all connected by a presence much greater than our own.

We would like to thank all those who came to help, and those who donated in a variety of ways: Subway of Stewartstown, Buon Gusto Pizzeria, ShopRite in Cardiff, Royal Farms in Norrisville, Saubels of Whiteford, Home Depot in Edgewood, Lee Tessier Team of Keller Williams, Ethan Pomraning, Smithson's at Pondview Farm, Cox Enterprises, Mason-Dixon Services, Mohan Welding, Baer's Repair, Carl Neutzel Services, Backyard Boys, Bear's Septic Service, Hall's Septic Service, Jarrettsville & Mason Dixon Lions Clubs, Norrisville and St. Paul United Methodist Churches, and members from Maryland Line, Citizens (Fawn Grove) and Eureka (Stewartstown) volunteer fire companies. Please accept my apologies if I forgot anyone.

The rubble left from a Christmas Day house fire near Norrisville is shown Saturday morning before community volunteers began clearing the site so a new house can be erected.
The rubble left from a Christmas Day house fire near Norrisville is shown Saturday morning before community volunteers began clearing the site so a new house can be erected. (Courtesy Norrisville Volunteer Fire / Provided photo)

Please continue to keep the Smith family in your thoughts and prayers. And if you live in or around Norrisville, know how blessed you are!

The Rev. Melissa McDade is pastor at St. Paul and Norrisville United Methodist Churches and chaplain for the Norrisville Volunteer Fire Company. Ed.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.
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