Community rallies to aid Corapeake fire victims

Published 8:25 am Friday, December 31, 2010


CORAPEAKE, N.C.— A family of five whose Thicket Road rental home burnt down early Christmas are discovering there is more than one Santa Claus.

This tight-knit Gates County community is rallying to the aid of the Junious “Bubba” Rawls Jr. family with money, clothing and other items.

“It’s just the right thing to do, no matter what time of the year,” said Kurt Brugeman, President of Corapeake Ruritan Club, which donated money to the family.

According to Rawls’ sister, Linda Whisonant, an account has been established for donations. She said those donations will be accepted at any Bank of America branch. Checks need to be made out to Junious Thomas Rawls Jr.

“They were lucky to get out of that house alive,” Whisonant said. “All they had were the clothes on their backs.”

The fire victims are living in different homes with family and friends.

“They’re waiting to see what their landlord decides to do with the home they were living in,” Whisonant said. “Obviously, they can’t live in it now, but maybe the landlord will decide to rebuild. They do want to remain in the Corapeake community. They may have to look for another rental home.”

Meanwhile, another effort is under way to assist the family.

The Rev. Mickey Willard, pastor of Eureka Baptist Church in Corapeake, is using his home at 786 Daniels Road as a collection point for donations. Money, clothing and toiletry items are being accepted.

Clothing needs are as follows:

■ Boy, 14, size 16 regular pants and medium shirts

■ Boy, 16, size 32 waist/30 length pants and large shirts

■ Girl, 17, and mother, size 3 pants and medium tops

■ Father, size 34 waist/32 length pants and large or extra large shirts.

Whisonant said another teenage girl was a frequent guest at the Rawls’ home. She was there the night of the fire and lost some of her belongings. She wears the same size as the mother and daughter.

The family already has plenty of donated outerwear.

For more information on the clothing needs, contact Willard at 252-465-6583.

Gates County Emergency Management Director Billy Winn reported that the family escaped the flames at their wood-frame home.

“The father received minor burns and was treated on the scene by Gates County EMS,” Winn said.

Winn said the fire was caused by an electric heater that ignited a blanket.

Sunbury and Gates Fire departments responded.

Winn said the home was fully engulfed upon the firefighters’ arrival.

The American Red Cross offered short-term housing assistance to the family.