When Anne Rekitzke's home went up in flames, she wasn't at home. Neither were here four children, who were staying at their grandmother's across the street.
And neither was her husband -- because he's serving in Iraq.
"It came at the worst possible time of the year," Anne said, her eyes red from crying.
Anne was at work at her local Wal-Mart in Cedar Lake, Indiana, when her mother called to tell her house was in flames. She used Facebook to tell her husband, Christopher, an Army National Guardsman, who'd recently been deployed to Iraq.
They'd lost everything, she said, including the family's six-year-old Labrador retriever, Pudge.
And if that wasn't enough, she said, "my dad almost died and then my grandma passed away, and then my house. So, it's been one thing after another. I want 2010 to get here."
Lucky for Anne and Christopher, their neighbors are making the rest of 2009 as comfortable as possible.
Strangers, who heard about the fire through in the news and on TV, have started filling up Anne's mother's garage with gifts for the family.
Donations have included stuffed animals, groceries, and clothes. Anne said that even a firefighter from a neighboring town stopped by just to see what he could do.
"The community has been wonderful," Anne said. "You find out how there's good people out there when there's so many people. But there's a lot of great people."
"At least my kids are safe," Anne said. "All you really need is family and friends."
The family is accepting donations. Their children include Christopher, 12 (mens large shirt, 16 husky pants, show size 9); Ally, 10 (girls size 16, shoe size 8); Ashley, 8 (girls size 7, shoe size 1); and Carter, 4 (boys size 4T or 5, shoe size 10.5). To donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org.