Lombard Spectator

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Article By Adam Rosen, arosen@mysuburbanlife.com
Lombard Spectator
Thu Jul 03, 2008, 08:40 AM CDT

Lombard, IL –

Ashlee Smith has never met the Fulton family of Lombard. In fact, the 9-year-old Nevada resident never heard of Lombard before this year.

But that didn’t stop her from helping little victims in a big way.

On May 8, an electrical fire broke out in the home of Howard and Susan Fulton and their five children. Fire officials said the fire broke out in the laundry area, causing thousands of dollars of damage to their home.

Most of the possessions in the home — including nearly all the clothing of 15-year-old Katy, 13-year-old Emily, 11-year-old Jordyn, 8-year-old Peyton and 6-year-old Jessyca — were destroyed.

John, a neighbor of the Fultons’, saw the fire and quickly thought of the Fultons’ two chocolate Labradors, Hershey and Chocolate. He broke a window and brought the dogs to safety.

Shortly after the fire, parents of classmates, PTA members and neighbors rallied around the Fulton family. Fundraisers were organized, and neighbors watched the kids and helped the family any way they could.

“The community has been outstanding,” Howard Fulton said. “If I made a list of everyone to thank, it would be very, very long.”

When Debbie Katzbeck heard about the fire in the home of one of her son’s classmates and fellow PTA members, she said she felt compelled to do something for them. Shortly after that, she read about Ashlee’s Toy Closet in People magazine and contacted Ashlee Smith about the Fulton girls.

“Ashlee e-mailed and decided that she wanted to help the girls,” said Ericka Smith, Ashlee’s mother. “We asked for specific items that each girl liked so we could match up items and get them to them ASAP.”

Last week, the Fultons received two boxes to their temporary home down the block from their old residence. Included in the boxes were dolls, puzzles, books and gift cards for the five girls.

“We were very touched,” Howard Fulton said.

He said his youngest daughter, Jessyca, has bonded with a doll named Jessica.
Ashlee started the toy closet after her family suffered a fire that destroyed her toys and possessions, and the Fultons are the latest of hundreds of people she has helped.

“She thrives on helping other children,” Smith said of her daughter.

Ashlee is collecting toys for the children affected by the wildfires in northern California, and Smith said she is extremely proud of her daughter.

“She has taken a negative experience in her life and turned it into something positive,” she said. “She is an amazing, warm-hearted, kind-spirited little girl who is doing amazing things.”

Although their house may have been destroyed, the Fultons are in limbo with the insurance company over restoration costs of their house. And while their lives have been turned upside down over the past two months, Howard is able to look on the bright side.

“It’s a bad thing that happened, but thank goodness nobody was hurt,” he said.

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