Hard times lead to help for English teacher

Warm hearts come to rescue after freezing temps cause destruction


Calista Schwab

English teacher Phylicia Anderson received help from the community after the pipes in her apartment burst over Christmas break.

It was just six days before Christmas.

Phylicia Anderson, an English teacher and assistant cheer coach, settled in for the holiday break with her husband, Fred, and their four children: Micaiah, 7, Moriah, 6, Anaiah, 2, and 4-month-old Sariah.

Even the forecast looked Christmasy. Where the weather had been mostly in the upper 40s and lower 50s the week before, there were now calls for freezing temperatures, especially overnight.

It was those temperatures — which dipped as low as 12 degrees — that transformed Anderson’s much-needed vacation into heartbreak. The storage sprinklers in her apartment froze and burst, flooding her home with more than two feet of water.

The water flowed through walls, overtaking the living room, bedrooms and bathrooms.

The kids’ new toys were ruined. The two oldest siblings lost clothes, and each child lost bedding and shoes. Anaiah’s new boots were destroyed, along with all of Moriah’s stuffed animals. Anderson lost all of her books for class.

The Andersons discovered that their renters’ insurance would not pay for the damages to their things. Frustrated, Anderson took to social media to detail the family’s plight.

“I had just posted it on Facebook, not expecting anyone to react to it,” she said. “You know, like all us ‘Facebookers’ do.”

But LaMesha Wilson, a Braswell inclusion teacher who often helps out in Anderson’s classes, saw the post and decided to take action. She emailed Principal Lesli Guajardo and asked permission to send an email to staff about a GoFundMe page set up in Anderson’s name, as well as to ask for clothing and toy donations for the family.

“I knew that I needed to contact [Anderson] to see how bad things really were because I had a feeling that the picture she posted was not showing us everything,” Wilson said. “I was right — unfortunately, things were much worse than depicted in the Facebook post.”

Wilson said God put it in her heart to help the Anderson family. She said she knew she had to be obedient to what her heart was leading her to do.

“It was a crushing feeling knowing that they don’t have family nearby to help them out and that their children’s Christmas could have potentially been ruined due to the tragedy,” Wilson said. “I have a husband and four children, I have sisters and brothers who have families, and I’d definitely want someone to help them if I wasn’t around to do so.”

Wilson and Guajardo showed up at Braswell at 8 a.m. Dec. 22 to meet staff who were bringing donations. The community answered the call for help, coming together to donate bedding, toys, gift cards and cash. The GoFundMe account ultimately raised more than $2,000 for the Andersons.

The people who were involved in this effort did so on their own time and with their own money,” Guajardo said. “We truly care about each other. When you’re a Bengal, you’re going to be taken care of.”

Anderson was overwhelmed by the generosity.

“It was very unexpected and humbling to see everyone come together,” she said.

Anderson and her family have since moved into a new apartment, which they’ve been able to make a home thanks to the outpouring of gifts.

“We appreciate everything everyone has done, and it has really helped us to get back on our feet and into everyday life,” Anderson said. “My children were surprised by the love the community has shown. They learned the lesson of how to help others instead of worrying about themselves.”