Up in smoke, not out of luck.

At about 4:30 pm on April 22,  in the Magnolia subdivision in Woodstock, Georgia, a bored teenager decided to douse an action figure in mineral spirits and set it on fire – just to see what would happen. What happened was that five families lost their homes to a fire that spiraled totally out of control. One of those people was Danita Riggins, a 29-year old engineer who came home from work at 7 p.m. only to confront a police barricade, television cameras and dozens of emergency responders. When they told her that she’d lost her home and all its contents in the fire, she collapsed.

Danita Riggins (and baby-to-be)

Danita is 8 months pregnant, a single mom-to-be, working part-time in an engineering firm (her hours recently got cut back due to the recession). To make sure she had everything she needed to take care of her baby girl on her own, Danita had purchased items she would need each payday, because she knew she couldn’t afford to buy everything at once. All those little clothes, booties, bottles, crib and the millions of things new moms need went up in smoke on April 22 — along with Danita’s maternity clothes, furniture, camera, computer, and all her household goods.

If this happened to me, I would be a puddle of misery, crying over my misfortune. Danita is cut from sterner cloth, telling me: “Well, I can let this stop me or I can keep moving. And I am so excited about my baby, I can’t feel too badly. It’s a setback, not a tragedy.”

The Boppy in "action."

I heard about Danita from Nancy Bartley in Colorado, president of Boppy Company — makers of the best baby product in America for about 6 years in a row. The mother of one of Danita’s sorority sisters from Southern Poly had written Nancy on Danita’s behalf, to see if Boppy would donate any samples or discontinued items to the young expecting mom. Boppy is an amazing company, and my best friend, crazy generous Clarice (who also runs Boppy) & Nancy are putting together a package of stuff for her.

The mother lode -- and this is just from two moms!

I’m way, way past the age of having baby stuff (boo hoo) but I put the word out to my fertile, fervently giving neighbors and in 24 hours, I’d collected from Michelle and Mindi alone: a crib, mattress, bouncer, bathing tub, play center, swing, toy set, toy cube, and high chair. I’ve not even activated my friend Andrea Shelton’s network — which I sure will yield the mother lode of clothes, diapers and essentials. My friend Stacey just brought over a Target gift card & diapers, and I’m giving my $100, too.

We're all in this together!

Hopefully, this will help Danita refeather her nest for her bundle of joy, and tide her over until her insurance money comes in. She’s staying with her sister now — but it’s pretty clear to me that she’s got sisters all over who are reaching out to help. What a great example of the power women have when we pull together! (And p.s. why isn’t that idiot teenager getting a million hours of community service to complete?)

If you’d like to send anything to Danita, just contact me (Contact button above) & I’ll give you all the necessary info.

2 thoughts on “Up in smoke, not out of luck.

  1. You may also want to check out http://www.yourhomeinatlanta.org – they help battered women who are mothers when these women are ready to leave the shelters and start establishing new homes for themselves and their children. These women most often have had to leave their homes rather quickly and without the opportunity to take anything with them, so they have to start from scratch. This organization attempts to collect furniture and other basic things, sheets, pots and pans, etc. to furnish the appartment/house to make it easier for the little family to get a start. I think it is a wonderful idea. My Atlanta doctor’s – who was Maggie Mermin – partner – Jim Braude – started it.

  2. Yeah, that teenager is an idiot, but he is a teenager for God’s sake. Their brains don’t work like ours. They don’t and actually cannot make the same sane judgments that we do, they do not think ahead and plan and anticipate the repercussions of their actions the way we do. That is the reasons they are not allowed to vote, enlist in the military, enter into contracts, get married, and make many of the other very important life changing decisions we are allowed to make. It is also the reason it is unconstitutional to execute them for any murders they may – God forbid – commit. Nevertheless, something does need to happen so the serious result of his stupid action can be impressed upon him. Charlotta

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