By John w. Goodwin jr.


A donation fund has been opened at Huntington Bank.

CAMPBELL — Those closest to a city family who lost everything in a fire two weeks before Christmas are trying to collect enough money to put them comfortably back in their own home.

Talisha Campbell said her close friend Vanessa Blankenship left her Jackson Drive home Dec. 12 to buy Christmas presents. While she was gone, Blankenship’s father smoked a cigarette in the basement of the home but forgot to extinguish the cigarette.

The Blankenship residence — home to Vanessa; her husband, Carlton; her 20-year-old daughter; and her father — went up in flames a few hours later. No one was injured, but the family lost all of its possessions.

“They lost everything due to the smoke and water damage,” Campbell said. “The insurance will cover the structural damage, but everything else is a lost cause.”

Campbell said the fire came at an already stressful time for Vanessa and Carlton Blankenship, who were married about two years ago. They had purchased the home less than a year ago, and Carlton was laid off from a position at General Motors mere weeks ago.

The strong smell of smoke still fills the two-story white house. Broken windows covered with wood shuts out most of the light to the inside of the house, and “no trespassing” signs are posted outside.

Vanessa and Carlton Blankenship stood in the driveway earlier this week shaking their heads at the empty shell that recently was their home.

“We would have never thought this would have happened to us,” said Vanessa. “We just want to go home.”

The family is staying with various family members.

Campbell evaluated the situation and thought about all her friend has done to help other people, then decided help had to be made available.

“She is such a good person and would do anything for another person. Even now going through all this, she would still come to help someone else if called. I figured if anyone deserves some help, it is her,” said Campbell.

Campbell and other friends started an account at Huntington Bank — The Blankenship Fund — so members of the community could donate and get the family any necessary provisions.

“I am hoping we can help get them back on their feet and just get the necessities so they can comfortably move back into their home,” said Campbell. “I know it’s hard times for everyone, but there is always someone doing a little worse than you. My motto is: To be blessed is to give with a pure heart.”

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