An early morning fire last Sunday destroyed the home of a family of six in Cayuga County, less than two weeks before Christmas. Now, their friends and the community are rallying together to help.
Tim and Jessi Kepple, and their four children were able to get out, dressed in only pajamas and coats.
"They were able to save their two dogs and got out just in time before the house went up," says Judy Wnuk. She lives in Cortland County and has been friends with the Kepples for more than 30 years. She says the fire took everything the family owned. "Christmas gifts, kids clothes, furniture everything is gone."
And what's more, Jessi Kepple, the mother, is pregnant with the couple's fifth child, whose arrival is expected January 2.
The family's new nursery, Christmas presents, and just about everything else the family owned was damaged by the fire.
Wnuk says it's been difficult for all of the children to understand what happened to their home.
"You can imagine how challenging it is to help kids understand why all their favorite things all their clothes and their toys are gone," she says.
Now, she's determined to help her friends find a home for the holidays. Wnuk has started a facebook page to help the Kepples. Though they have many needs, she says most of all they hope to find a temporary home to rent - hopefully before Christmas. Despite losing everything Wnuk says the Kepples are grateful.
She says they are so thankful everyone, including the family's two dogs, were able to escape the fire. "They have said over and over again what a blessing it is that they were able to get out of the house safely. Because you can replace things but you can't replace people," she says.
Another friend, Deb Johnson Stanfield started the Fundraiser for the Kepple Family event page.
Johnson Stanfield is planning a fundraiser Saturday at the Sennett Fire Department station one from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.
Neighbors are encouraged to drop off donations at the fire department at 3155 Turnpike Road in Sennett, near Auburn.
The Feocco's Family Inflatables Fingerlakes Mall in Auburn has also joined the rally on Facebook.