Building a holiday from tragedy

By Michael Davis

Less than a week after the family was touched by tragedy, the Jackson family was touched by kindness.

Riter and Addlyn Jackson's 4-year-old daughter, Kayla, was killed last week in a late-night blaze that destroyed their Hampton area home, along with any hope the family had of having a care-free Christmas.

But the McDonough store where the family had already done some of their shopping for their 4 children offered to relieve them of some of the burden of the holidays, and show them that someone cares.

The McDonough Wal-Mart store last week treated the Jacksons to a host of holiday gifts for the family's daughters Teresa, 7, Jalyn 6, and son, 2-year-old Devaughn.

Riter Jackson was choked up Friday, speaking about the family's loss and the outpouring of kindness from the store.

"I just realize there are a lot of good people in the world," he said.

Addlyn did not appear, but Riter's brother Kelly, 30, and two cousins, Eric Champagne, 29, and Mirlandre Beauvais, 26, helped carry away the toys, dolls, shoes and clothing the store donated to the family.

The Jacksons also received several hundred dollars in the form of store gift certificates.

Riter said the family is staying with Kelly while they look for an apartment. As the holidays approach, much of the family has gathered at Kelly's home, which is just down the street from the burned-out Jackson home.

Riter said the family will rebuild their Marcus Lane house, which all but vanished in the blaze.

Fire investigators were still working to determine the cause of the fire last week, said Henry County Fire's Capt. Sabrina Puckett.

Wal-Mart Loss Prevention Supervisor for stores in the southeast metro Atlanta area, Ethan Mease, helped gather donations and support from other stores in the region.

"He's been the one that's got on top of it and got the regional support," said District Manager Tony Stewart.