ATLANTA - Clearly moved by the story of Zeta storm survivor Valerie Smith, FOX 5 viewers are pitching in to help the mother who lost most of her belongings after a huge tree crushed a large section of the home she rented near Campbellton Road.
We introduced you to Smith on November 10, nearly two weeks after the tropical storm upended her entire life. She recalled the sound of her eleven-year-old screaming as she tried to rescue the girl after an oak tree crashed through the roof around 4 a.m.
But it was Smith's resolve and expression of faith that seemed to move viewers in a meaningful way. Several reached out to FOX 5 to help.
One, who gave the mother of six a donation for motel fees, told FOX 5's Portia Bruner Smith inspired her.
"To see that picture of her children sprawled out across two motel beds trying to do their school work really got to me. And for her to be able to stand there in front of that broken house knowing everything she lost and still be able to praise God, I knew had to do something to help," said the viewer who asked to remain anonymous.
Rev. Derrick Rice, the pastor of Sankofa United Church of Christ, said he was also moved by Smith's resilience and called on his congregation to help.
"It's all summed up in the 5th chapter of Galatians. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. This mother is clearly a strong woman, but she and her children need our help. The church and the village have a responsibility to respond and restore families. This is a Sankofa moment," said Rev. Rice.
Members of the congregation are donating money to help the Smiths cover food and motel fees while Smith looks for a home to rent near Campbellton Road. She wants to ensure her children can remain in their current elementary and middle schools.
The Southwest Atlanta church had previously organized a food and clothing drive for Saturday, November 14. This week, the church invited Smith to attend so she can rebuild wardrobes for two sons and four daughters who range from kindergarten to 8th grade.
"I am just so grateful. I always trust that God will provide and I knew that would be the case even after I saw that tree in my daughter's bedroom. But this, this is just amazing," Smith said after hearing about the church's efforts to help.
You can drop off food and clothing for the Smiths from noon to 2 p.m. at 1187 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard in Southwest Atlanta. To donate directly to the Smith family, click here.
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