Your Good News: Community comes together to help a family that lost everything in a house fire

When the Sullivan's family farm burnt down, they lost everything. Curtis Sullivan's coworkers at Tractor Supply didn't think twice about helping.
Published: Mar. 21, 2023 at 6:38 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (WTAP) - Curtis Sullivan has been working at South Parkersburg’s Tractor Supply for 18 years.

He’s known by his coworkers as a happy and outgoing person, a loyal worker, and someone always willing to help others.

This willingness to extend a helping hand is what lead to a whole community coming together to help Curtis and his family when tragedy struck.

On the morning of January 24, 2023, the Sullivan family farm burnt down, taking a home full of memories away from Curtis, his wife, and their daughter.

We look at how the Sullivan’s coworkers at Tractor Supply came together and are helping to raise money to get them a roof over their head for March’s Your Good News Story, sponsored by Morrison Inc. in Marietta.

“The outpouring of support for our family has literally been overwhelming,” said Curtis Sullivan.

Curtis’ daughter woke him and his wife up after seeing a surge protector at the foot of the bed on fire.

Curtis went to unplug the surge protector and knocked a laundry basket over and catching fire, that’s when Curtis says the whole thing went up in the flames.

“It just in a matter of moments… it was run for your life.”

He said there was no time to do anything but run.

“There is nothing left. The only things we got out was my wife and I in our night clothes. My daughter in the clothes that she was wearing and fortunately the dogs and the cats all made it out. There was no loss of life, but it was a total loss of property.”

Curtis said the hardest thing is losing irreplaceable keepsakes.

“What really hurts is… my dad’s shotgun. My wife’s only picture of her father who’s gone several years.”

The Sullivan family’s life changed in a matter of 30 minutes.

“I went from a homeowner with a fairly comfortable lifestyle to nearly destitute and homeless in 30 minutes. That was a shock…. But to have so many uplifting hands, so many people helping out… it’s just more than I can bear sometimes.”

Lucinda (Cindy) Taylor has worked at Tractor Supply for 2 years and is on the Field Activities Support Team.

She works closely with Curtis.

After hearing about Curtis’ loss, Taylor decided she had to help the man who doesn’t think twice about helping others.

“Curtis is the type of person that would do anything for you at any time. I don’t have to ask him twice to help me with anything. And I just wanted to do something for him and his family,” explained Taylor.

Cindy organized a hotdog sale, with hotdogs, chips, snacks, and a water all for 5 dollars at the Spencer City store in Roane County.

She says a community that didn’t know Curtis personally, still came together to help a family in need.

And according to Curtis, a fundraising auction was done in Elizabeth by the granddaughter of one of his old auction friends, area churches have made donations, and even random customers have come up to offer help.

“Customers walk up to me everyday… here take this. Grateful is not the word.”

David Haas, the President of Morrison Inc in Marietta, sponsors the Your Good News Segment.

The group gives a donation to the recipients choosing. This time, they’re making their donation for the Sullivan family’s home rebuilding and refurnishing.

“When a story like this comes out and it’s a human interest story about people doing the right thing… it restores your faith in humanity. So we’re glad to be a part of it,” explained Haas.

Curtis says they’re saving up the money they get to buy a modular home. He owns 151 acres and says nowhere else would feel like home.

Currently Curtis, his wife, and their daughter are staying in a friend’s camper in front yard. They can’t have their pets with them while staying there.

“I’m about 30 grand away. And at 68, I don’t see us signing a 30 year mortgage and I don’t see anybody financing us a 30 yr mortgage. So we’ll do whatever we can. And we will survive.”

Cindy isn’t surprised with how optimistic Curtis is, saying “That’s just Curtis”.

“No matter what’s happening here in the store or in his life, he always comes in happy.”

When feeling overwhelmed Curtis says there’s just two words.

“When the words aren’t enough and the right words wouldn’t come out anyway. All I can say is thank you . And I mean that with every bit of my body. Thank you.”

If you’d like to help Curtis and his family you can drop off any donations off at the tractor supply in Parkersburg, or make a donation on a GoFundMe page.