UPDATE – Thank you so much for all support and feedback we’ve received so far on this! It has been truly remarkable. I’ve updated the article below to include the address for donations. Again – thank you all, and God bless you.
Facebook can be a remarkable thing. It gives you quick access to updates from your family. It makes it easy to find embarrassing pictures of your friends from high school. It can suck endless hours out of the day as you quest for jewels, build mafia empires, or create your perfect farm. It can also, on occasion, give you the opportunity to help someone in need. This is one of those times.
Last Friday, I got a message from one of my old friends. I went to high school with both she and her husband, and we reconnected a few years ago on Facebook. She was reaching out to see if there was anything I could do to help out with one of her husband’s coworkers, a man named Matt Braswell. Both her husband and Matt work as firefighters, and in a cruel moment of irony – Matt’s house burned down while he was on duty last week. As she told me his story, I knew that I had to find some way, however small, to help.
I’ve learned a lot about Matt and his family this week. Matt is 26 years old. He and his wife Tracy have three kids: son Jacob – age 10, son Leighton – age 3, and daughter Kenley – age 2. He is a veteran of the Marine Corps and has been a Gwinnett County firefighter for the last 3 years. While he was on duty last week in Gwinnett, the family’s home in Douglasville was completely destroyed by a fire. Luckily, no one was injured – but the family lost everything.
Matt is an avid reader – a passion he has passed along to his son Jacob. Matt is a sci-fi fan, and loves Star Wars and zombies (he’s a man after my own heart). I’m told it’s not uncommon to find him engrossed in his latest book at the firehouse when the day’s work is finished. Jacob has picked up his dad’s love of reading, and is also a budding artist.
When the fire devastated their home, it destroyed all of Matt’s and Jacob’s books, along with all of Jacob’s drawing books, supplies, and sketchpads. As you know, I’m an avid reader and lover of books. They have been my constant companions since I first learned to read. They have provided me solace, inspiration, entertainment, and education when I needed it most. The thought of losing all my books – my friends – it would just be devastating. I don’t know Matt and his family personally, but I do know that no one who loves to read should ever be without books. The firefighting community is helping the Braswell family with donations and the necessities they need – but there is still more that can be done.
When my friend contacted me, she said she wasn’t sure why she did it – she just felt like she should. As soon as I got her message, I knew why she had that feeling – I needed to try and help this family. They say the Lord works in mysterious ways. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes, you just need to listen and you’ll find it’s not so mysterious after all. Sometimes he just wants you to do the right thing.
That’s where you and I come in – I’m asking you for your help. Do you have a few sci-fi or children’s books around the house you don’t need anymore? Do you have a few extra dollars that could be used to purchase an Amazon gift certificate? Do you have a sketchbook or some old art supplies you aren’t using? If so, I ask you to join me in donating them to the Braswell family. The love of books is a powerful bond we all share, and you can help me help them start to rebuild their book collection.
As I mentioned before, luckily no one was hurt in the fire. The Braswell family lost all of their possessions, but possessions can be replaced – the important thing is that they still have each other. None of us can take away the loss and the pain they feel, but if just one book can help Matt, Tracy, Jacob, Leighton, or Kenley find a few moments of laughter, or joy, or escape in the days and weeks ahead – well, I would like to think that would make the world just a little bit better place.
If you have something you would like to donate, here is the address:
Gwinnett County Fire Station #14
1600 Buford Hwy.
Buford, GA 30518
Attn: Matt Braswell
Thank you for your help and God bless you.
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