A pre-Christmas tragedy has turned into an outpouring of community support for an Elgin family in the last couple days.
When a Christmas tree caught fire at a home in the 1300 block of Sheffield Drive Wednesday and spread throughout the living room, it left the house uninhabitable and a family with little hope and nowhere to turn.
But homeowner Michelle Konecki said her son's football coach started turning things around for them.
Joe Stump is a student at St. Edward Central Catholic High School in Elgin. When he told his coach he couldn't make an event Wednesday because there was a fire at his house, coach Mike Rolando and his wife, Theresa, pulled in the school and church community to help.
"St. Ed's football team has come together for my family in a way I can't express to you," Konecki said Friday afternoon.
Jim and Amy Warner offered the family the use of their house at 515 South St., which has been for sale for the last seven months.
Jim Warner said Konecki and her husband, sister and kids can stay until the house sells or the repairs on their own house are completed.
Having the house available, Amy Warner said, "is God's way of not answering our prayers."
Konecki's husband, Jack Fisher, reflected on a difficult couple of days.
"I got here this afternoon and I realized that all I had was eight garbage bags full of clothes, and that was my whole life," he said.
Cabela's, the outdoors store in Hoffman Estates, donated winter coats, boots and hats to the family. St. Thomas More Church in Elgin loaded up a truck with supplies for the family to get them through their difficult time.
The football team has been doing the heavy lifting.
"It's amazing what our community is doing," Konecki said.
As Jack's 5-year-old son Keaton Fisher surveyed the bags full of goodies that had been donated and were piled through the house, he signaled that this will be a merry Christmas for him after all.
"This is like a toy farm," he chirped.
• If you would like to help, you can reach Konecki at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the church.