Baker family’s Christmas a lot brighter thanks to outpouring of help from community

THE TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS: Outpouring of support from the community gives hope to struggling family

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - All Ferzell Shepard wanted this Christmas was an opportunity to support his family, and to move out of the hotel room he, his wife, and four children had been living in since October. He lost his cook’s job to the pandemic, and his wife’s hours had been cut as well.

Christmas was looking bleak, until you stepped in.

In less than 24 hours, the community came together to raise more than $13,000 to help the Shepard family back on their feet. But you still had more to give.

​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in.
​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in. (Source: WAFB)

It started before the sun could warm the chill out of the Christmas Eve sky. Another $500 donated by an anonymous viewer. Outside the hotel room he calls home, all Ferzell could say was, “Thank you. This is a blessing. This is a blessing.”

That was only the beginning of the surprises in store for the Shepard family. At Advantage Charter Academy, Principal Ashley Chavis, saw the Shepards story and had already mobilized her faculty and staff to help.

“We were all so shocked and surprised that this family that we’ve known for years was experiencing this,” Chavis said as she collected toys and cash from a giving Baker community.

I just need a job. I just need a job,” Ferzell told us repeatedly yesterday. “It’s not about me, It’s about my kids. They don’t deserve this.” That struck a chord with many in Baker.

“Not a lot of people get to feel that feeling of being loved and feeling secure in everything they have,” said Marc Anthony Calhoun of the Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity as he dropped off toys for the Shepard children. “We ran got a couple of gifts for the parents and the children to do our part in the community.”

You stuffed three SUVs to the brim, then delivered Christmas.

​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in.
​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in. (Source: WAFB)

The Shepard children squealed in delight as colorfully wrapped boxes spilled into the parking lot. Ferzell held his head in his hands in disbelief. “Thank y’all. Thank y’all. Thank y’all,” was all he managed to say.

Mixed in with all the toys and the clothes, Ferzell found the only gift he had asked for this Christmas. Packed in with a new laptop, an offer of a job, and all the training he needed from a local IT company.

​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in.
​Christmas was looking bleak for the Sheppard family, until you (the Baton Rouge Community) stepped in. (Source: WAFB)

He could scarcely hold back the tears as he took a seat on the sidewalk.

“I don’t have words. This is life-changing for me and my family, to get us on our feet,” he said. “This is a blessing. This is a blessing. I thank everyone, everyone, everyone who helped me out.”

This Christmas, thanks to you, a family has a new start, and hope. Isn’t that what the season is all about?

A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Sheppard and his family. Click here for more information on how to donate.

WAFB makes no representations or warranties of any kind about the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of any GoFundMe campaign. Any donations you make to such campaigns are strictly at your own risk. If you have any questions related to the authenticity, accuracy, or reliability of a GoFundMe campaign, please contact GoFundMe directly or consult the GoFundMe Guarantee Policy.

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