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Family gets surprise from generous strangers after Christmas Day fire

Posted at 9:55 PM, Dec 30, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-30 23:12:14-05

A Milwaukee family that lost everything in a Christmas Day fire is getting help from the community rebuilding their lives. That also includes giving a little boy back part of the Christmas he lost.

A nearly empty apartment on the city's north side is quickly filling up with clothes, bedding and TVs for Katherine Mitchell's family.

"The church, a few coworkers and people who just dropped stuff off," said Katherine Mitchell.

The mother of three spoke to TODAY'S TMJ4 Monday about the fire that took everything from her family on Christmas Day. Her north side duplex at 3250 N. 35th St. was a total loss.

At the time, she couldn't bring herself to tell her 8-year-old son Carmello the gaming system he begged for was destroyed in the fire.

"That was the first thing he asked me, 'Did they save my game?' I'm like 'I don't know yet,'" said Katherine Mitchell.

Friday afternoon, Carmello Mitchell showed us around the new place he is living. He has blankets, plus a small box of toys and a bag of shoes that people donated.

"I feel grateful for what I got right now," said Carmello Mitchell.

But ask him what he lost in the fire, and the first thing he talks about is his PlayStation.

"I lost my game!" said Carmello Mitchell.

A man from Brookfield heard about Carmello's lost present, and thought of his daughters at Christmas. He has three, including a 9-year-old.

"Kinda hit us when we saw the story, having someone close to the same age and knowing with the holiday how tough that can be," said Chad Pagel.

Even though they never met, the family drove up from Brookfield with a surprise.

"Oh, a PlayStation!" exclaimed Carmello Mitchell, as he tore open the present from the Pagel family.

The Pagels say seeing Carmello's smile made their holiday.

"It feels like it's Christmas again," said Carmello Mitchell.

Carmello could not wait to start playing his new game system. He says he only got to play his old one twice before the fire happened.

The fire department does not know what caused the fire in the duplex, but believes it started in the basement.

The family still needs beds and appliances for their new apartment. The family's church St. Paul Church of God at 2661 N 53rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53210 is accepting donations for them. They can also be reached at 414-444-5745 or at 414-610-3892.
 

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