CAROLINA FOREST, SC (WMBF) - In times of great tragedy, communities come together to protect their own. One community experienced that when buildings at the Windsor Green community in Carolina Forest burned to the ground one year ago.
Some people had to leave their homes with just the clothes on their backs, and returned to find everything they left behind was destroyed.
People with the Palmetto Goodwill in Carolina Forest say they saw a spike in donations in the weeks following the fire from people who just wanted to help any way they could.
"No one expected just how much the community would respond, how many donations would be made," says Rick Shelley, VP of Mission Services for the Northern Region of Goodwill.
Goodwill received an entire warehouse full of donations. The next day people from the community streamed in to temporary donation sites, dropping off everything from toothpaste, to clothes, to furniture and money.
"If you can imagine immediately after that, the fire victims were kind of at a loss and not sure of what to do or where to go to get help," Shelley says.
But the people in the community kept giving food, giving items from their own homes, and giving support.
Eventually, when the temporary donation sites needed the space back, Goodwill acquired much of what was still remaining.
They gave the victims vouchers to use within the next year when they got back on their feet. Today we know 26 families used 142 of those vouchers. That's 142 vouchers for items donated by people in the community that helped in the rebuilding process.
"We knew many of these folks," Shelley continued. "They were in our schools, they were in our jobs. We could relate to it first-hand because so many of us had first-hand information about some of the victims."