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Students replace familys Christmas gifts after blaze
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Riverwatch Middle School student Remington Youngblood, second from right, and other members of Change 4 Georgia recently raised money to help replace the Christmas presents a south Forsyth family lost in a house fire. - photo by For the FCN

SOUTH FORSYTH — When a destructive late-night fire destroyed a south Forsyth family’s home, neighbors and the community swarmed to support the parents and children, swiftly replacing essential needs like clothes, shoes and school supplies.

While those vital items were quickly donated, a group of children wanted to help. However, it wasn’t easy enough to write a check or wire money to jump-start the process of building a life in a new home.

The founder of Change 4 Georgia, or C4G, a service-centered, student-inclusive organization, realized the Jan. 7 fire left the three Polston boys with just a few days to experience their new Christmas presents.

“When I first heard the story, I was devastated,” said Remington Youngblood, a seventh-grader who attends Riverwatch Middle School with the sixth-grade Polston boy and his seventh-grade brother. “It was a few days [after] Christmas, and you’re so excited for all of your presents. Then all of a sudden you just lose everything. I would be completely devastated.

“Knowing we can help them … They lost everything. It’s the least we can do.”

And that’s just what he and eight other C4G members — all students — did.

The organization, which Youngblood started three years ago to collect and donate items to military personnel and their families, has raised about $1,550 of the $2,500 it cost the Polston parents to buy their sons’ gifts. It also plans to buy a Christmas tree to recreate what was so quickly taken away.

Youngblood’s mother, Rebecca, said the family gave her receipts and lists of the actual presents. The Youngbloods went to Walmart and bought three TVs, Beats headphones and an iPad, among other items.

They also picked up a brand new Xbox for the youngest son. He happened to be playing his previous gaming system about 4 a.m. when he followed a strange noise to find the back of the two-story house on fire, burnt in the blaze.

“They felt great helping these other kids,” Rebecca Youngblood said of her son and his friends. “Usually with service organizations, it’s adults helping other people. But here it’s kids helping kids.”

The Polstons’ father is a 17-year Marine veteran, Youngblood said, so this service project supports C4G’s mission to assist military members and their families.

“Everyone knows [Rebecca Youngblood] here because she comes in to buy things to donate so much” said Heidy Del Valle, Walmart’s manager of electronics who helped find items on the list. “We wanted to help and be involved because we know it’s a good cause.

“My son is serving in the Navy, so I know it’s very important for us to help the families.”