For a few day, things looked grim for 84-year-old Virdi Burns and her son, who is on disability.
They were evicted from their apartment in Whitehaven, a community in Memphis, Tennessee, on July 15 and the next day Burns had to sit outside with all of her belongings through storms and triple-digit heat.
“I know it don’t look like it’s much but it’s mine and I don’t want anybody to take it,” she told WREG.
Though Burns is diabetic and owed the Hickory Hill Apartments more than $1,300 in back rent, she tried to be optimistic, even during the poor weather.
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“Well after it rained I said thank you Jesus. I said all of my stuff, probably got messed up but I think you for the coolness anyway,” she said with a laugh.
Burns told reporters she had the money for the rent, but that she was mugged last week and her purse, which contained the money, was stolen. She and her son were planning to move before being evicted.
“It’s all been hard,” said Walter Cadwell, Burns’ son.
After locals heard about the family’s plight, they rallied to help.
“It just touched me in a way that nothing never touched me,” said local Ricco Tunstall. “First thing I seen on her face was my grandma so I was like, I gotta help.”
Tunstall started raising money for the family, and he wasn’t the only one. Davin Clemons from KWAM 990 Talk Radio helped raise more than $1,000 using crowd-funding website GoFundMe.
Another woman rented a motel room for Burns and Caldwell.
“We are the beloved community and it is the second commandment of God to love thy neighbor as thy self,” Clemons said.
Tunstall hopes the community’s efforts will be a lesson for others. “When you think of Memphis, you never think of people coming together to help each other and once we help each other the city will be a better place,” he said.