Ipswich's generosity helps family of eight smile again
SADLIERS Crossing mum of six Vera Gibson has every reason not to smile.
The 41-year-old and her family lost everything they owned after a fire destroyed their home.
Ms Gibson also suffered third degree burns on her hands - an injury she sustained as she tried to battle the flames.
Despite their pain and loss though, Vera and her family have had a bit of happiness injected back into their lives, thanks to the generosity of the Ipswich community.
The family had barely managed to escape their burning home after it caught on fire about 2am on Sunday morning.
Vera said the smoke appeared to be coming from the lower floor; however fire crews are still investigating the source.
The fire was discovered by Vera's nine-year-old son, Zoran, while on his way to the bathroom.
The responsive youngster alerted his family of the danger moments before the uninsured house was engulfed in flames.
In the wake of the fire, the family lost everything; clothes, furniture, photos, even thousands of dollars worth of exotic fish which Vera had collected over the years.
After the tragic story was reported in the QT on Tuesday, the Ipswich community reacted by reaching out to help the anguished family.
Vera said she had received numerous phone calls and texts from people - many whom were strangers - offering donations of furniture, clothing, vouchers and other items.
Ipswich East State School, where Zoran and his six-year-old sister Zoe attend, have provided the family with new school supplies and Lowes vouchers.
Church and community support groups, such as Giving with Love, have also stepped up to help the family out with donations.
"The support from the Ipswich community has been incredible," Vera said. "It's overwhelming.
"The donations have put a smile of my children's faces again, which is great to see. The community's generosity has certainly given me and my family a brighter outlook towards the future".
As well as helping Vera and her family, the community also rushed to the aid of fellow fire victims Emma Murphy and her daughter Charlotte.
The pair had their Ipswich home burned down a few hours before Vera's did.
An online fundraising page to support Emma and Charlotte has so far raised more than $5000 in donations and additional offerings of furniture and household goods were also made.
Both families have been further supported by the Ipswich Mayor's Community Fund, designed to be distributed when an emergency need arose in Ipswich
The Mayor visited with Vera and her family yesterday to hand them the fund donation along with a surprise for the kids - tickets to the Ekka.
"There is something special about Ipswich," Cr Pisasale said. "It's the city that's always ready to be there for those who need help."
Cr Pisasale said the Community Fund, which was set up about four years ago, was completely funded through charitable donations.
"It's like the city having its own insurance," he said.
"When tragedies like these fires take place, you need to be able to help the victims as soon as you can."