It was early Sunday morning on December 20 when Nickie Templeton ’04 heard about the fire at Landau Apartments in Clinton that claimed the life of a four-year-old girl and left eight families without a home.
“I panicked because my cousins live in that apartment complex,” Templeton said. “I could not reach them on the phone so I drove there.”
Templeton found her cousins when she arrived.
“My cousin was holding the sister of the little girl who passed away in the fire,” Templeton said. “I learned that the little girl who survived was one and literally had nothing. She didn’t even have a clean diaper to change into.”
Templeton went to the store and bought essentials for the one-year-old.
“I knew in that moment that I had to do something because my heart was so heavy from being there,” she said. “I know a lot of the people who live at Landau, and I wanted to help their children have a Christmas despite the tragedy.”
“While We Live, We Serve”
“When I got home from the scene of the fire, I was overcome with raw emotion and sadness from what I saw,” Templeton said. “The thought of all of those children not receiving gifts from Santa was too much for me to comprehend.
“To me, it was personal because I know so many people there, and my family lives there.”
To help, Templeton challenged “everyone (she) knew” to donate so she could buy gifts and clothes for the 11 children impacted by the apartment fire as well as a fire at a house in nearby Joanna. It took only a day for Templeton to raise over $4,000.
Templeton and a few others bought the items for the children, everything from stuffed animals and baby toys to a PlayStation and XBox. All they needed now was a way to present the gifts to the children. Templeton asked First Baptist Church of Clinton, less than a mile from the PC campus, to host a toy-reveal event.
“They were all in,” Templeton said. Church members helped get the venue ready, organize toys, and played Santa for the children at the event.
“So many community members contributed with money, time, and donations,” Templeton added.
Help When It’s Needed Most
During the event, families received over $2,000 in cash, and each child received gifts from Santa.
Brenda Stewart, a marketing professional who covers news in Laurens County, created a fund at the bank for the families displaced by the fire.
“At the event each family was so moved and grateful,” Templeton said, “and I really feel like it gave each family the first taste of normalcy and sense of hope since losing everything in the fire.
“The expression on all of the kids’ faces was absolutely priceless.”
Living the PC Motto
PC students serve those in need while they’re in college and continue to do so after they graduate. Please visit Student Volunteer Services to learn more about how PC students live the PC motto, “While We Live, We Serve.”