November 10 2018, Saturday night. My brother Elijah was in Memphis, Tennessee for a joint chapter football program. I had just seen the new Grinch movie. I came home, hung out with my parents, then went to sleep like any other normal night. 1:15 AM Sunday, November 11 2018, my dad bursts into my room, waking me up to say “There’s a fire in the house”.
I rushed downstairs with my dad and my dog to go outside, and there it was, my garage ablaze. We called 9-1-1 as we watched the huge fire spread throughout our entire home destroying everything from my childhood. My brother’s room is right above the garage, and it got burned first. It kept spreading and spreading until we finally heard sirens
One of my first thoughts was, “I’m going to lose all of my clothes” and when I say that to my dad, he responds “everything is replaceable except for people”. I know he’s right, but in my head, I think about all of my BBYO things. My red books, my different BBG pins, my board boxes, and all of my BBYO merch. I can’t replace the red book with a handwritten letter from my CLTC coordinator, or my note in a bottle that I wrote to myself during separates, or any of the memories attached to the clothes I got from conventions or from trading with friends.
I needed to text my CLTC group chat and let them know what had happened. As soon as morning hit and people started waking up, I received nothing but love and support. People were asking what they could do to help and were sending my family and I unwavering support. I told them how much I was gonna miss my entire BBYO collection. They immediately asked me where they could send their own clothes to help me rebuild my wardrobe. Since I didn’t have an address, I told them I wo uld tell them as soon as I knew.
About 7:30 AM, the fire marshall tells us that the fire has been completely put out. We drive to Walmart, the only thing open that early, to buy some things just for the next week because I still had to go to school the next day. We called Elijah to tell him what had happened. Like me, his instinct was to tell his friends from Perlman. He came back on Monday and told me about the unconditional love and support he got as well. He had also taken some CSR merch, a red book, and a BBG pin from the Memphis office to bring back to me.
In the coming days and weeks after, when we had a temporary address for people to send things, we had an overflow of boxes and boxes of clothes from people all over the U.S. All of the people we had texted sent us BBYO clothes to start building up our collections again. People from my CLTC sent stuff for my brother and people from Perlman sent stuff for me. CSR had people sent clothes and gift cards to our JCC. Some chapters and regions even held fundraisers and collected clothes. They didn’t even know who they were giving clothes to, but they knew they wanted to help us. I now have more BBYO clothes than before. We also got so many letters of love and generous donations; it was like nothing I’d ever seen.
I felt so loved and supported. All my friends, all my brother’s friends, and the entire BBYO community gathered around us to make sure we got through these hard times. BBYO creates unbreakable bonds and friendships that literally last a lifetime. If I had not been to CLTC 1, I would not be the same, and I would not feel the same love and support I feel consistently, and I certainly wouldn’t have the dope wardrobe I have now. Summer programs are one of the best parts of BBYO, so if you’re considering it, or know someone who is, go. GO GO GO! It is one of the best decisions I have ever made and the friends I made there are ones I know for sure I can always count on.
Thank you CLTC 1, thank you for being there for me when I lost everything. You are my home and my best friends, and you will always have the most special place in my heart.
Marlie Thompson is a BBG from Cotton States Region and her favorite show is The Office!
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