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How to Help Someone after a House Fire, Really

Whether they lost their home to a wildfire or arson (like we did), people need more than an encouraging word.

Our house was still smoking, the day an arsonist randomly set it on fire, when the questions began to pour in. "What do you need?" friends and neighbors started asking. Our family had all been at home and in bed when the fire was set, and we escaped with nothing but my laptop and the clothes on our backs. Yet I couldn't think of how to answer—until I remembered a line from a previous conversation with my neighbor, who was undergoing chemotherapy at the time: "Anything anyone does for my kids helps me."

So I began saying, "Gift cards for books. For the children."

I asked our children to list which stores they wanted gift certificates from. I began with our youngest, age 7 at the time. Eden sat down and made the list you see in the photo below (after the jump).

25¢

As we stood on the lawn, watching the house burn, she said, "I'm so glad I put most of my money in the bank this week!" We had made a recent trip to the credit union, but she had reserved a quarter.

TIGER BOOK

The night before ...

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