Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Community rallies around family who lost home in blaze

After a fire engulfed their home on March 17, the Cole family from Unicoi has nothing but thanks for community members.
The family has received an outpouring of support since losing all their possessions in the blaze and it was evident during an event held at Teddy Bear Lane in Erwin on Saturday, March 20.
Lacie Barrett and husband, Matthew, helped organize a box truck to load donated materials for the Coles for a storage unit in Piney Flats, free of charge for three months.
“We’re sort of new to the community,” Beryl Cole said on Saturday. “There’s been people who have come not only from Unicoi and Erwin, but other counties and other states. It has been amazing and by the grace of God. People have come out, helped, given and just been there with their hands wide open, asking if we need help, putting us somewhere to stay or giving us something warm to eat.”
A moment that stood out to Cole was the Red Cross on the scene before the fire was even out with blankets, supplies and a place set up to stay “to ease their minds” he said.
“It’s just been amazing at the people that have come together to help us through this,” he added.
Saturday’s event was scheduled to last an hour, but an overwhelming amount of support from members of the community kept the truck there longer than expected. Individuals stopped by to donate clothes, bedding items and supplies for a new place to stay for the family.
“This is amazing,” Lacie said while helping load items into the truck.
Matthew was the driver of the truck and also helped load the vehicle up with supplies.
“It was all my wife,” he said with a chuckle when asked about Lacie. “I’m just here to help out. That’s what neighbors are about – being there to help.”
The Barretts live a block away from the Coles and Lacie took the responsibility to set up a Facebook page to help organize support for the event after the incident.
“The Lord says to love your neighbor as yourself,” she said. “I just decided if that was me, I would want somebody to reach out to me. I put together a GoFundMe page to raise money, and it’s over $670.
“I contacted a couple of storage facilities to see if they’d be interested in helping. We ended up getting one in 24 Hour Storage in Piney Flats and they let us use the box truck. Thank God for them and the owner for letting us use the truck.”
The vast amount of people stopping by shows what the power of a community can accomplish, Lacie added.
“It shows people actually put others before themselves,” she added. “It also shows there’s still love out in the world and people still care for one another. I’m really excited to see the people turn out and see the amount of people that care.”
Missy, wife of Beryl, had nothing but thanks to give during the event.
“It has been overwhelming with the blessings we’ve gotten from the neighbors,” she added. “People we don’t know, the community, she (Lacie) has worked her butt off … everyone has. Our place is already almost cleaned up, someone cleared it off … just praise God is all I can say.”
Bill Gaines, a neighbor of the Coles, announced last week that a bank account has been set up at Clinchfield Federal Credit Union named the “Beryl and Missy Cole Fund.” Individuals looking to donate to the account can contact the credit union at 743-9192.
Along with the donations, Gaines added that Unicoi County Sheriff Mike Hensley agreed to allow the annex center on Asheville Highway to serve as a drop off point for clothes and linens.
“I went by and I overheard a guy talking by the ruins,” Gaines said. “He was standing around and said ‘I had pretty much lost my faith in humanity, but the response of this community to this family has about restored it’… You couldn’t ask for a harder-working family and I’m happy to see the support they’ve received.”
During the process, Missy and Beryl both thanked community members and their employers. Missy works for Erwin Health Care Center and Beryl works for Aggregates USA near the Rock Quarry in Watauga.
“They’ve been like family to us both,” Missy said of the agencies. “We just want to thank them for all their support.”