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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Restoring Stuffed Animals after a Fire

On December 21st, when most of us were dealing with holiday festivities, the Watkins family was dealing with a tragedy – a home fire.  Thankfully they were out when it happened, but a fire started in their chimney and quickly spread to the attic, causing a fair amount of damage to the home but more importantly, a great deal of smoke and water damage to their personal items.  Jan said they lost a number of items but she estimated that about 50% of their stuff was salvageable.  Initially, she tried washing many of her everyday things in hot water only to find that caused shrinkage, so she and her husband, Thad – a Thomasville City Fireman, decided to take their nicer garments and textiles to the A Cleaner World in Thomasville, and they in turn sent them to our Fire Restoration Division.  Mike, of course, quickly cleaned much needed items and returned them to the family within two days, and he and his crew then continued working on the rest of their order.

Here’s where the story takes a sweet turn, for in the balance of their order was this little fellow.

A small gray stuffed elephant in a car seat, awaiting his bath

In the photo above, he is on the way to our warehouse to be cleaned and made smoke-free.  Jan purchased him before their daughter Finlee was born just because he was soft and she liked him, and as Finlee grows, each month Jan takes her photo with the elephant to see Finlee’s progress.  Finlee is now 9 months old but has sadly missed two photos with the elephant because of their family tragedy.  Because this little guy is so important to the Watkins family, we’ve taken a special interest in him.  We also decided to take a few photos to show his family how he went from sooty and smelly to clean and fresh:

A small stuffed elephant on a countertop

The stuffed elephant, rolling in what I assume are dirty clothes

A stuffed elephant recieving cleaner and brushing

The elephant in a washing machine, pre-wash

The elephant in a washing machine taking a tumble

As we lovingly restored him back to his like-new condition, we kind of got attached to ‘the elephant’, so we started including him in our daily activities.  Here he is hard at work:

The Elephant working at a desk in front of a computer

The elephant sewing a garment for repair

The elephant atop a dry-cleaning rack, clean and happy

As you can see, he is very talented and capable.  We’ve had such a good time with this little guy, and we are happy to say that the Watkins family has the rest of their stuff and is doing quite well.  The community really rallied around them and helped them get set back up in a different place.  Jan is hopeful for the future.  She said their plans all along have been to save money and build a new home, and they are continuing on that path.  “The important thing is that we weren’t at home,” she went on.  “I could be sharing a different story if we had been.  But things can be replaced, and I now have a new understanding of what others in similar situations have been through.”

A Cleaner World Fire Restoration is so thankful that we were able to help the Watkins family and that they are on the road to returning to some normalcy.  “The Fire Restoration business is such a personal business,” said Mike Feudale, Manager of A Cleaner World’s Fire Restoration Division.  “Customers trust us to bring their intimate, personal things back to life, and we can’t begin to put into words just how much we appreciate the confidence folks like Jan and Thad and others put in our abilities and the treasures they allow us to care for.”

A freshly cleaned stuffed elephant in an A Cleaner World Bag

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