I'm cross-posting a blog post here that I wrote for CBC.ca (my first blog post there ever). This story unfolded over four days, and it was my favourite thing to work on all last week.
When Jaime Hatt's two young daughters, Emma and Nevaeh, got out of the weathered car with Alberta plates, I knew their story was going to be big.
The girls are seven and nine, almost the same height, both with long blonde hair and winning smiles. We met at the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank on Monday morning, after their mother Jaime posted an appeal on Kijiji saying that her moving company was holding her furniture hostage for thousands of dollars more than she could afford.
It's pretty hard to watch two little girls pick out second-hand furniture and talk about sleeping on the floor. One of the things Nevaeh told me she missed most was a box of stuffed toys which she said keep her "safe at night."
It seems the girls' appeal pulled more than just our heartstrings.
After CBC became involved, Jaime Hatt got a call from Troy Moving, the company that put her items in storage. It agreed to settle the bill for $1,800, a price Hatt said she could afford.
After that, a local man called me in the newsroom to ask how he could donate a loft bed to Hatt's girls. Another man wanted to know how he could donate money to pay Hatt's bill. The original Kijiji post received thousands of hits, many from people asking how they could help — and within a day, Thompson's Moving stepped up to bring Hatt's furniture home for free.
"These gentlemen actually helping me out is just huge ... It's just emotions everywhere. It’s just really, really good — I can't even put words together straight, I'm so happy," Jaime Hatt said, as her belongings were restored to her.
In news, we see many acts of ignorance, cruelty, or greed — behaviour that cheapens human beings. But every so often, we are lucky to see the kindness of strangers. It's a great privilege.
In the end, this story about one woman trying to get her possessions back turned out to be about something much more. It's not about the things, as Jaime Hatt told me. It was never about the things.