It's the worst December on record for the Wongs, a family of seven who lost everything in an east-end fire last week.
Ron Wong and Melissa Ryerse had already finished Christmas shopping for their five children, who range in age from four-year-old Kailem to six-month-old Gabe. The gifts were destroyed by a fire at their Province Street North home on Dec. 4.
So were their toys. And their clothes. And precious family photos. The family cat also perished.The home, including the kitchen, was destroyed by fire.
Now neighbour Paula Fancey is trying to help.
Fancey has set up an account with the CIBC to try to raise first and last month's rent for the family so they can be in a new home by Christmas.
“I can only imagine having five kids and…I don't know how they're pulling together so well,” said Fancey, whose teenage daughter Jordan helped rush the children to safety.More damage at the rented home.
When the family fled the fire to Fancey's house, they had only the clothes on their backs, Ryerse said. Since then, they've been staying with family. They are currently staying with Wong's parents, which has led to 12 people crammed under one roof.
December has been “a rollercoaster ride” so far, Ryerse said.
“I've been crying almost every day. I don't want to take my son out of the school he's in when we've already lost everything that means anything to him. We're trying to find a place in the same neighbourhood, but I don't know.
“This month has been one big explosive bomb.”The family narrowly escaped the Dec. 4 fire.
The family was sleeping when Kailem woke to the smell of smoke just before 6 a.m. He woke his sisters and then came in and roused his parents, Ryerse said.
“We call him our little hero.”
The family received clothing donations from Queen Mary Elementary School, where Kailem goes to school. Other community members have stepped forward to help, including the Fanceys.
Fancey is hoping to raise money to help them get a new place and replace some of their furniture. She has set up a bank account at CIBC for the Wong family, transit #03862, account #8709491. For more information, email Fancey at email@example.com.