SUMTER, S.C. — The Sumter community is rallying around a woman who lost her home to a fire on Sunday. From clothes to money, residents are trying to help.
"It was horrible," Wanda Rogers explained, tearfully. "It was just the worst thing I ever seen."
Rogers was watching TV in her house on Sunday afternoon when she smelled smoke. She went outside and saw that her back porch was engulfed in flames.
"All this black smoke was right at me," she remembers.
Now, over 70 years of memories are destroyed.
"All my baby stuff, everything I’ve collected. All of it. Everything. All my…it’s just everything," Rogers cried.
Her son David added, "If you know my mom, she never gets rid of anything."
According to Roger's daughter April, "We sifted through a lot, but there’s nothing."
From clothing to pictures, Rogers lost it all. Despite the loss, Rogers says she’s found a bright spot: her community’s support after her family organized a fundraiser.
"Words can’t express it. The gratitude that I feel for the kindness and the love that everybody's showed," Rogers said. "I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude. I really am."
Including from her neighbors, Timothy and Donna Hudson who have donated to help Rogers as she stays in a hotel and hopes to rebuild.
"It was the least we could do," the Hudsons explained.
Hudson tells me the community is tight-knit, and the huge response isn’t surprising.
"I think it’s just a reflection of the people here. That’s just how they are," Timothy shared. "We all kinda look out for each other, keep tabs on each other."
Even outside of the neighborhood, people like Jim Tingen with Bryant Industrial are helping. As soon as the insurance adjustor is finished, Tingen and his coworkers will tear down the remaining structure and take it away for free.
"With all working together, we try to be one big family and all come together and it just helps the community, just makes you feel better when you can help somebody," Tingen said.
The owner of Cashlyn's Boutique donated clothing, along with other residents.
The cause of the fire is still under investigation, but according to the fire department, it’s an estimated $200,000 in damages.
For more information on the fundraiser, you can visit Wanda's daughter's Facebook page.