My name is Maryanne Sibley and on Dec. 14, 2018, myself and my family were struck with immense tragedy.
At around 6 pm. that evening, our home caught fire and burned completely to the ground taking all of our possessions, pictures and memories with it.
Luckily, my common-law husband and our two children, Matthew and Rachel, made it out of the fire safely and unharmed and for that I will forever be grateful.
What followed was something I could never have expected. In the upcoming weeks, I experienced a level of compassion, generosity and empathy that I will never be able to understand. People came together and gave selflessly and wholeheartedly.
I write to you because during the immediate hours during and following the fire, we discovered just how truly blessed we are!
The people in the communities surrounding our home came to our immediate aid, offering, and subsequently, providing clothing, shelter, food, blankets, toys, toiletries, monetary donations, even a vehicle to drive.
I certainly cannot list everything that was donated – there just wouldn’t be enough paper. I have yet to comprehend how people anywhere can be so forthcoming with anything and everything they have for people they hardly know.
Businesses in the area gave up their Christmas dinner in lieu of donating their monies to us. We had people giving at a time when they have nothing left to give.
Our local hockey association gathered up hockey equipment so that Matthew could continue to play hockey and I am grateful that through all the madness, he was able to be a normal kid and continue his day-to-day life.
Fiirefighters in Musgravetown presented my son, Matthew with a certificate of bravery and made him an honorary firefighter, which he is very proud to tell.
Firefighters in Lethbridge gave Matthew a badge of honour and tuques with the fire stations’ emblem to our whole family. They also arranged for a visit with Santa for my children in which many of you, people in the community, had given so graciously, gifts for our whole family.
While there were many, many highlights of this event, I have to point out the efforts by one firefighter who personally contacted members of our families and had them send pictures which were then placed into a photo album to start new memories.
For me, this was the most devastating part of the fire, that all my pictures of my children growing up, their baby books and all of my mementos that I had collected through the years were now all gone.
For this firefighter to have gone to such lengths to bring me even a small amount of happiness during that time was immense and I will never forget the kindness.
I would like to formally thank the men and women of both the Lethbridge Fire Department and the Musgravetown Fire Department as well as those in the police detachment who responded for their efforts on December 14 in ensuring the safety of all those involved.
Students and staff of schools in Musgravetown, Lethbridge, Botwood and Change Islands all gave donations raised from various fundraisers while many churches throughout the areas provided clothing, food, singing, donations, etc. to raise our spirits and ensure that my children had gifts under the tree this Christmas and that none of us were in need of anything and members of the Newfoundland & Labrador English School Board and from the Newfoundland & Labrador Teacher’s Association sent wishes on their behalf.
Some people even made multiple visits and I’m told that some of my students wanted to hand-deliver things to me themselves.
These students have the kindest hearts I have ever seen and I am so proud of the empathy they have expressed.
One student won a piece of cookware and upon hearing about our fire, brought it down from his bedroom and asked his mom if he could give it to me! Another sent along a handmade card with her allowance taped to it. Others brought me a Christmas tree, decorations, and also gave their allowance. Another baked me cookies. Still another had a birthday party and asked that her guests bring gifts for my children to have for Christmas in lieu of birthday gifts for her!
These are kids. Kids who’ve been parented well. Kids who I am proud to call my students!
I would really like to thank people specifically for their donations, kindness, time, thoughts and prayers but the list would just be too long and I appreciate every single effort and thought given to us no matter how big or small.
Daily visits, texts, calls, and messages were all very much appreciated as it was a constant reminder of the love and support surrounding us. There were many, many efforts made by so many people that were unbeknownst to myself and my family that I wouldn’t even be able to name everyone involved if I tried.
Friends took up a collection THAT NIGHT, found us a place to stay THAT NIGHT, brought us clothing, food, and toys THAT NIGHT.
This was just amazing!
My head was in a whirlwind, it still is, but having the support of a whole network of communities made the unbearable much more bearable and I have to graciously thank you all, my extended family, for jumping in and saving me that night, and the months following.
I struggled with writing this because thank you just never seemed like enough but I say it in the humblest way I know - THANK YOU from the bottom of our overflowing hearts!
The Sibley-White Family