When Elicia Robinson and her son Jediah climbed into a limo at Baker Elementary School last month, they had no idea of the surprise waiting for them at the end of their short trip.
The mother of six thought her fourth-grade son had won a school contest. Neither mom nor son knew that about 20 Baker staff members secretly had hopped on a school bus to beat them to their destination, and that there would be a sea of people waiting to welcome them to their new home. After living in a motel, they didn’t know that they would have a home for the holidays.
Atlanta radio station Star 94.1’s Jenn Hobby revealed the surprise as the mother and son listened to the radio in their chauffeured ride. By the time Robinson stepped out of the limo parked in front of her new home, she was already in tears.
The Cobb family lost their home last year after suffering financial struggles when Robinson lost her job. Although she now works two jobs and spends hours in commuting time to try to support her family, it hasn’t been enough. That is, until the Baker Elementary community and residents around metro Atlanta volunteered to help.
After learning of their struggles, the Baker school community found ways to help the family in need, including seizing on the opportunity to nominate them for A Christmas Miracle, sponsored by NorthStar Church and Star 94.1.
Principal Alison Broughton and volunteers spent weeks coordinating the surprise, which includes more for the family than just a place to call home. Through NorthStar’s BeBold Campaign and the generosity of Star 94.1 listeners, they paid the family’s bills, paid off the mom’s car, and checked off their wish list with a stack of presents under the tree. For the next year, the family will not have to worry about rent, lawn care, pest control, or how to pay the power bills. The community took care of that, too. Robinson’s car insurance also is covered for the next six months.
The pantry was full, along with the hearts of the family and the volunteers who had worked so long to give them the keys to a happy new year. Broughton was thrilled to see how the community had rallied to support the family.
“It will probably always be the biggest highlight of my career,” Broughton said. “NorthStar Church and Star 94 provided, not only a place to call home, but restored joy and hope for this sweet Baker family. Seeing the Acworth and Atlanta communities come together was so heartwarming, and really solidified the true meaning of giving during this Christmas season.”
Besides the framed art and letters from the children that hung on the walls, there was another reason the new house already felt like home. Part of the surprise was securing the family members’ belongings that they thought were lost after failing to pay the monthly rental fee for their storage facility. There was also a framed photo of Robinson and her family — his mother’s Christmas wish, according to Jediah.
To top off the family’s new home for the holidays, volunteers also moved in new furnishings, including festive decorations in each room.
“This is a great family and so deserving. She is a hardworking mom,” said Baker social worker Petrina Fowler, who had encouraged Robinson not to give up hope during the past year, including the night before the big surprise, when the mom was really struggling and needed to talk.
“As a social worker, I hear a lot of really tough stories, but working with her has been amazing,” Fowler said. “I’m so excited and happy for her. This is truly a Christmas miracle. This makes it worth being a social worker. It makes my job amazing.”