Community Rallies Around Family Whose Business Burned In Wednesday Fire
BY O.J. EARLY
Charlie and Karen DiBella watched helplessly Wednesday as flames swallowed their Greene County business.
"We stood there and cried. We really did. But I know in my heart that the kids are safe, and the house is still up," said Karen, her husband seated by her side.
But still you go out there, and you smell it, and you look and say, 'My livelihood is gone.'"
A Wednesday-morning fire incinerated Charlie & Sons, Inc., a cabinet shop positioned less than 30 yards from the DiBellas' 107 Cutoff home.
Among the items in the building: decades worth of tools and equipment, Charlie's work truck, and Christmas presents for the couple's children and grandchildren.
What has followed since the tragedy, though, has deeply touched the hearts of the DiBella family.
Local churches, schools, businesses and various organizations have turned out in droves to assist the struggling family.
Examples abound. For starters:
* Since a news report surfaced on Bristol television station WCYB that the DiBellas lost a handmade dollhouse meant for the couple's four granddaughters, 10 people have called promising dollhouses for the family, and Home Depot is currently building a life-sized dollhouse for Charlie and Karen's granddaughters.
* Jeff Idell, of Idell Construction, loaned Charlie a work truck.
* A local resident guaranteed a table saw for Charlie.
* Representatives from Chuckey-Doak High School brought two boxes full of Christmas gifts.
* Teachers from other local schools raised money for the family, replacing the $600 of Christmas shopping money that was left inside Charlie's work truck.
* US Nitrogen officials arrived at the house with Christmas gifts -- new iPads -- for the DiBella children.
"It has been incredible -- just incredible," said Karen. "Everyone ... schools, churches, customers ... It's just been great."
PLANS TO REBUILD
In a Friday interview with The Greeneville Sun, Charlie was quick to say that he plans to rebuild his business.
"It will probably be a few months for the shop," he said. "The truck, we need to get as soon as possible."
He has worked in the woodworking business for 40 years, and his eastern Greene County shop had been here nearly seven years.
CAUSE OF THE FIRE
The fire began around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday, and its cause is still undetermined.
Fire officials will continue to investigate the scene, Karen said.
"It's been devastating. We try to keep our humor up," Charlie said. "We'll be fine."
Karen related similar sentiments.
"I'm going through some sadness," she said. "But the outpouring of love and support ... it just lifts our spirits."
If you would like to donate to the DiBella family, please visit http://www.gofundme.com/DiBella-Family.