A North Zulch ISD employee and her teenage daughters received an outpouring of support on Saturday when residents gathered for a community garage sale to raise money for the family that lost their home last month.
Joanna Coleman, who has worked in the school cafeteria for about three years, said she and her daughters had been living in a camper on her parents’ property because she was caring for her mother. The daughters, 14 and 17, attend North Zulch High School.
Coleman’s oldest daughter was at home when the fire occurred Feb. 6.
“There was a lot of black smoke and it smelled funny,” Coleman said. “[My daughter] went into the house to get my father but it was so smoky by then that they couldn’t get back inside.”
Although the camper was a temporary home, Coleman and her daughters lost all their clothes, eyeglasses, makeup and electronics including laptop computers.
In typical North Zulch fashion, the community banded together and began raising money to replace the Coleman family’s belongings. A barbecue was held Feb. 20 that raised more than $3,000. The family is now putting together a new home inside a shell, building drywall and installing flooring and cabinets. They’re temporarily staying with Coleman’s parents in their two-bedroom farmhouse about four miles from the school.
Residents began dropping off items at North Zulch Elementary School on Friday afternoon, and the garage sale kicked off at 8 a.m. the following day.
Third-grade teacher Blair Dozier said about $600 was raised over the weekend, and they still have several large furniture pieces they will continue to sell.
Dozier said she contacted Coleman as soon as she heard about the fire.
“I asked her what she needed, and she didn’t really know,” Dozier said. “She said, ‘I’m in a fog.’ She makes my lunch every day and this is how I would want people to treat me if I were in this situation. We just want to raise money for Joanna.”
Coleman said the generosity has been touching.
“The community has been awesome,” she said. “Our church has helped with the necessities and people have been so generous. I’m grateful that they’re doing this.”