Community comes to aid of Smiths

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 2, 2005

It’s been nearly two weeks since the fire that destroyed her home and ruined her basketball uniform, and Aubri Smith is still not quite comfortable in her No. 20 jersey.

She’d rather be wearing 32, the number passed on to her three years ago when Chesley Hall graduated, leaving the jersey to the young Cornerstone Christian athlete.

Aubri is content to make do for now, but her father, CCS coach Tim Smith, has promised her he’ll reorder the No. 32 uniform next season.

It’s a minor inconvenience really, in the grand scheme of things; but such troubles have marked the days for the Smith family, who lost nearly everything in a fire that started in the bathroom and worked its way throughout, totaling their Columbiana home.

For Aubri, a freshman basketball player, 32 is about the only number she’s ever known. That home was the only one she’d ever known.

The Smiths weren’t able to save much, but they’re thankful for the few items they managed to salvage from the blaze.

Tim’s wife, Angie, was able to rescue some of the family’s most valuable possessions, ones that could never be replaced – family pictures.

Heath, a senior football and baseball player, was able to save several of his most prized items, guns passed on to him from his grandfather.

But what Tim and Angie, both graduates of Shelby County High School, are most thankful for is the people they have in their life – the ones who rushed to their aid as soon as news spread through the community which Tim and Angie have long been active members of.

Almost as quickly as the smoke and flames covered their house, the community blanketed the Smith family with support.

The first ones on the scene were the men and women of the local fire departments, many of them volunteers. Four Mile, Kingdom, Wilsonville and Columbiana fire departments each responded to the call.

Members of Bethel Baptist Church, the organization responsible for starting Cornerstone Christian School, were also quick to come to family’s side.

Armed with sizes for each family member, church members went shopping. By nightfall, they had already done what they could to make sure the Smiths had something to wear.

Friends and neighbors came out of the woodwork to bring food, assistance and any other help they could provide.

With the help of the community, the Smith family has moved on as quickly as possible and is already looking at

plans for their new home.

There are still those inconveniences, those sad days when they might realize something else that was lost in the fire. Like the Chargers letterman’s jacket given to Coach Smith by friends at

the school, or the 32 collared Cornerstone shirts he’ll have to replace.

But Tim Smith said he couldn’t be happier about something the fire left him with – a clear view of blessings he might not have payed as much attention to before the smoke cleared.

&uot;Friends and people just started coming from everywhere,&uot; he said. &uot;It just goes to show what God’s people will do for you.&uot;

Ashley Vansant is the sports editor at the Shelby County Reporter. He can be reached at