UPDATE | Home repaired by volunteers for Charleston woman in need

Published: Nov. 3, 2018 at 4:44 PM EDT
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UPDATE 12/21/19 @ 8:03 p.m.

One family got a Christmas gift bigger than they could have ever imaged Saturday.

"It just means everything to us," said Sandra Thomas, the homeowner.

"We had nothing, now we've got a home and a place to call our own."

Thomas is an elderly and disabled woman raising her two great-grandchildren who are 4 and 6 years old. They were living in a one-car detached garage.

"They've never known what it is to live in a house," Thomas tells WSAZ.

Thomas first bought her home on Dayton Drive in Charleston to fix up to live in. But due to no luck with local help programs, they couldn't afford to fix it all up.

"I called the number and talked to him and it was David and he said let me meet you there and see what I can do," said Thomas. "He did decide to help me and I'm just so thankful."

The Religious Coalition for Community Renewal (RCCR) is a group that picks one family in need each year to help with basic housing repair(s). Their goal is to renew the community and keep the members in it, warm, dry and safe.

"It's very touching and heartwarming especially when you see the number of people come out to volunteer their time selflessly to make sure we get this family in this home by Christmas" said volunteer Barry Walls.

Walls' is just one of sixty volunteers who donated their time outside of their day job to have the Thomas project completed by Christmas of this year. Over 4,000 hours of volunteer labor made this dream for Sandra Thomas, a reality.

"Oh it's going to help a whole lot, we no longer have to live in a garage," said Thomas.

Thomas says it couldn't have come at a better time.

"Holidays are going to be kind of hard on us since we lost their mother in August, it's really hard," Thomas tells WSAZ. But I just thank everybody for what they've done."

Thankful to be home for Christmas, with presents under the tree and a completely furnished home.

The project contributors are John Kopyscianski and Builders FirstSource, Barry Walls and Lowes of South Ridge, Evelyn "Lou Ann" Nally and Home Depot of South Ridge, George Martin and Martin's Top Shop, Michelle & Richard Thompson and Bible Center Church, Erin Andrews-Shearer and the Appalachian Service Project (ASP), City of Charleston Refuse Department, Pete Cosby and Bridge Ministries, Ed Miller/ Scott Wandling of American Traditions LLC.


Several volunteers gathered on Dayton Drive in Charleston Saturday morning to help a woman many of them have never met.

Sandra Thomas is an elderly and disabled woman who is raising her two great-grandchildren. The kids are 3 and 5 years old.

Thomas was recently in a car accident that was not her fault, and the insurance company offered her a small sum of money. Thomas immediately bought a home on Dayton Drive for her and her two great-grandchildren, but the house was in bad shape.

Thomas and a few family members started rehabbing the house, but they did not get very far and could not afford any more repairs.

Volunteers, who wish to remain anonymous, stepped in and began gathering supplies, money and manpower for the project.

"Oh it was just amazing, I was so thrilled, I mean I am so happy about it," Thomas said.

The City of Charleston Refuse and Street Departments donated dump trucks and debris disposal for the project. The Charleston Police Department sent volunteers and controlled traffic on the narrow street. Builders FirstSource donated many materials and Bridge Ministries made the project a part of their youth program, allowing many young adults to help.

The Religious Coalition for Community Renewal is the fiscal agent for the project. Thoroughbred Construction Group, LLC brought manpower and supplies to the project to help repair the house's roof.

"It's wonderful that they're willing to volunteer and do this work because I sure appreciate it," Thomas said.

On Saturday, the volunteers re-did Thomas's roof, started electrical work and began framework for the rooms. Volunteers said this is just the start of a big project and they hope to continue working on the house in the coming weeks.

"I just hope that god blesses them back the way god has blessed me," Thomas said.

This is the second volunteer project hosted by the group. If you would like to donate to these volunteer projects, contact RCCR Executive Director Debra Payne at 304-346-6398.

As the project continues, the group will need plumbing and electric supplies, insulation and more manpower. Donations through the RCCR are tax deductible.