A friend in need
We know the story of the Miller family, burned out of their Glendale Street home in Lenoir Feb. 19, and the burns suffered by the family's youngest member. We also know a giving community has rallied to collect donations for the Millers, now staying at a relative’s house in Granite Falls.
Less known to many is the quiet force behind much of the community support: 21-year-old Brittany Annis.
Annis, a Lenoir native, has been friends with Kayln Miller, the mother of the child burned in the fire, since their middle school days. The two graduated from Hibriten High School in 2009 but parted ways after Annis married and her husband, Carson, joined the U.S. Navy. Annis returned to Lenoir after her husband's submarine, the USS Springfield, was deployed to the Middle East.
She heard about the fire and jumped into action to try to help her friend.
“I was part of a family-readiness group for military families in Connecticut,” Annis said. “I know how to do these kinds of things.”
The day after she heard about the plight of her friend Kayln and her family, she created a Facebook page called “Lenoir House Fire Victims.” Word spread. By Friday, the page had 726 members.
Donations of clothing, toys and even furniture began to pour in.
“I have some household items I could donate. Anything you guys need, let me know,” one person posted on the Facebook page.
Amanda Cooper, the relative of the Millers who has given the family a place to stay, told the page's members, “The boys have received a nearly overwhelming amount of clothing donations and should be good to go for a long while.”
Kayln Miller was surprised by her friend’s efforts.
“We didn’t talk that much after (Miller’s 6-year-old son) Johnny was born,” Miller said. “I thought our friendship was over. I never thought anybody would have to help us out in this way. It feels great that a friend has been the one to do this. I honestly love her.”
Annis enlisted the help of Foothills Radio Group, where she works part-time, to help spread the word. Fairvalue was contacted and donated baked goods for a fundraising event today at Dari Frez in Hudson.
On Thursday, members of the Caldwell County Firefighters’ burned Children’s Fund presented the Miller family with a pre-paid $500 Visa card at the Lenoir Fire Department headquarters.
The response from the community was overwhelming to Annis.
“I was very surprised, just because this is such a small town,” Annis said. “They now have an outrageous amount of clothes and furniture.”
Annis' father, Michael Sipes, is proud of his daughter.
“She’s always looked out for others,” he said. “She heard about the fire, and right away she devoted the next two days to do this.”
Annis deflects praise, instead crediting those who have helped out the past week and a half.
“It couldn’t have gotten this big without you,” she said.
WANT TO HELP?
What: Fund raiser/bake sale for the family of James and Kayln Miller
Where: Dari Frez, 137 Main Street, Hudson
When: Today, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m
Raffle tickets may be purchased at the event for $1 each, or 10 for $12. Winner receives a $20 Tupperware gift card. Donations will also be collected.
Donations of clothing items also can be made at the following locations:
• 3549 Fox Run, Gamewell, NC
• 519 Edgewood Drive SW, Lenoir, NC
• Odums Salvage located off exit 113 on Connelly Springs Rd, Baton, NC
• 115 Pope Place, Lenoir, NC