Monday, Jan. 18, was Christmas in January for Sequim's Sayer family, who lost everything when their rental house at 709 E. Fir St. burned on Thursday, Jan. 7.
Christmas music filled a large meeting room at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, 30 Sanford Lane, Sequim, which was decked out with a decorated tree and wrapped gifts both practical and fun.
After a blessing by church member Wayne Christensen, it was time for 27-year-old Yvonne Sayer and her children, 9-year-old Haylee and 5-year-old Ayden, to open their presents.
Ayden's favorite gift had to be a G.I. Joe action figure, which he played with extensively, even losing it twice, before opening his other gifts.
Haylee said her favorite gift was "Ummmm ... pretty much everything."
Yvonne echoed that sentiment.
"Everything. I can't single out one thing.
I'm overwhelmed by the compassion."
Weeps for photos
While the children darted around opening gift after gift and marveling at the new clothes, games, CD players and other items, Yvonne sat quietly opening hers.
She tried to keep her composure while unwrapping gifts such as a blanket, linens, silverware and a paperweight that spelled out "HOPE" and reading the accompanying cards.
Other gifts were a microwave oven, recliner, children's beds and $600 for children's clothes.
One of the most touching gifts was two empty photo albums. Yvonne began crying as she said, "I have nothing to put in them. I lost all my photos."
"You can begin tonight," Maureen O'Kane told her, motioning toward the numerous cameras brought by the more than 35 people to record the event.
One of the most sobering gifts - one not usually appreciated unless you've lost everything - was a simple broom and dustpan.
O'Kane said Yvonne had no idea how many people cared.
"She was overwhelmed by the generosity of the people in this community, many she doesn't even know."
Help in moving
Then on Tuesday, many of the same people from the Christmas party helped Yvonne and her children move into a new home in Carlsborg.
It all happened because the community
took the time to care," she said.
O'Kane said even though the Christmas party was held at the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the entire faith community has helped the Sayers.
"So often our faith community does its own thing, we don't work together. The Sayer family's tragedy brought us together," she said.
"All the churches came together on this one. It's held at our church, but we didn't have a bigger part than the others, we were just one.
"And not only other churches are donating but individuals and organizations as well. That's what's really nice, it's actually gone beyond the faith community."
Donations still accepted
The Jan. 7 fire destroyed the 1,300-square-foot home that Yvonne and her two children had rented since July.
Their orange-and-white-striped cat, Buddy, and two birds died in the fire. Their terrier, Oscar, remains missing.
A donation account is set up at Sound Community Bank, 541 N. Fifth Ave., Sequim.
Clothing and other items can be donated at the Seventh-day Adventist Church and at First United Methodist & Congregational Church, 110 E. Seventh St., Port Angeles.
Reach Brian Gawley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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