By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Fire victims praise community
Family thankful for help after losing everything to blaze
The Cooper family home at 130 Spruce Street in Richmond Hill.

The Coopers have gained the reputation of being a family that has donated a lot of time and resources to the Richmond Hill community.

The shoe was on the other foot last week, after a Jan. 8 fire completely destroyed their home and personal belongings.

The Cooper family, including Richmond Hill firefighter Michael Cooper and Richmond Hill teacher Kathy Cooper, said they are overwhelmed with the support from the community over the last few days.

Also surviving were Cooper’s daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons, ages 2 and 4, who all lived in the home.

Cooper said the outpouring of support from her fellow Richmond Hill residents has helped her family cope with their loss.

She said she could not be prouder of her neighbors and she plans to rebuild the family home, which is located at 130 Spruce Street in the old Henry Ford-built Blueberry community.

"Richmond Hill is my home and always will be my home," she said. "I’m just so thankful for everyone that has come out and helped us. Since the tragedy, my family has not had to ask or want for anything. This community has just helped us so much."

She said the family has been flooded with donations of clothes, money, food and people willing to help – many of whom she has never met before.

One anonymous Richmond Hill donor arranged for the family to go on a shopping spree at Dillard’s. Cooper said her grandkids especially enjoyed the trip to Dilliard’s.

"We turned the boys loose and they had a ball picking out new toys," she said. "It really picked up their spirits because everything they got for Christmas was lost and they’re still having a hard time dealing with this."

Other donations have included free child care from Children’s Village and multiple meals from the owners of The Shellhouse, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s and Southern Image. The Shellhouse has collected donations as well.

"Just about every time we’ve walked into a restaurant this past week, someone has offered to pay for our meals," she said.

Cooper said her fellow staff members in the school system and the folks at the Richmond Hill Fire Department have been a tremendous source of support "and have helped us with anything you could think of."

She said the local fishing club Offshore Outlaws have also stepped up and helped the family in numerous ways.

St. Anne’s Catholic Church is planning to sell meals one Saturday in February, with the proceeds to go toward the family. The date has not yet been set, but tickets will go on sale soon at the church and various locations throughout the city.

"We want to make it a county-wide effort," said Daryl Petermann, one of the organizers of the event. "The family may be getting a lot of donations right now, but I know they’ll be faced with some financial obstacles. We just want to help. As a former first responder myself, I’m proud to do this for a local firefighter and his family."

Want to help? Donations can be made at Bryan Bank & Trust or mailed to: Firefighter Michael Cooper Recovery Fund, c/o Sheena Holmes, P.O. Box 1299, Richmond Hill, Ga. 31324.

Sign up for our E-Newsletters