Ohio resident Kristen McKenzie’s eyes quickly filled with tears as she watched the evening news on Feb. 5.
She watched a single mother crying and her 9-year-old child’s traumatized faced, and knew she had to do something to help.
Brittany Richardson and daughter, Zyaire Richardson, were asleep in their Mount Airy, Ohio apartment that night. But they’d woken up to the terrifying realization that their apartment complex was going up in flames.
To escape, mother and daughter executed a scary jump from their second-floor balcony. They watched as everything they owned went up in flames — the clothing on their backs and a car key were the sole remainders of their possessions.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Brittany Richardson tried to explain the frightening feeling of having her home ripped away from her. “(We lost) everything,” she said, fighting back tears.
“I don’t have nothing but what I have on, and my keys and that’s it,” Richardson expressed. “I don’t have anything.”
Meanwhile, a complete stranger was watching her story unfold on the news that night. And that complete stranger was rounding up gifts and hope and kindness, and soon, would no longer be a stranger.
McKenzie managed to get in contact with the Richardson family, arriving on the scene with a huge duffel bag full of hope.
She immediately pulled out a giant stuffed giraffe from the bag and placed it in the arms of little Zyaire.
McKenzie also brought gift cards for food and restaurants, as well as gift cards to local home goods stores.
Her generosity provided the mother and daughter a little breathing room, giving them a chance to worry less about money and more about healing.
Needless to say, the Richardsons were stunned and greatly encouraged by McKenzie’s act of kindness.
“It’s not too often that I feel like people help, and for her, reaching out to two people that she doesn’t even know just, like, warms my heart,” Brittany Richardson expressed.
Zyaire, eyes glimmering with resilience, said the help feels wonderful. “I feel great because the fire was really scary,” the brave survivor expressed.
McKenzie is adamant that she simply did the right thing — and hopes others will give back, too. “We have to all learn to just give back, even if it’s at this little local level, and I couldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t do something,” McKenzie stated.
For now, the Richardson’s are staying with family while they get back on their feet. They plan to stay in touch with McKenzie, a stranger turned friend.
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