San Leandro widow surprised with new furniture in apartment

SAN LEANDRO, Calif. (KGO) -- The holiday spirit is alive and well in San Leandro Thursday as friends and strangers join forces to help a single mom who lost everything in a fire.

"We just try to be a resource for families struggling to make ends meet around the holidays," said volunteer Burgandie Spears.

The widow, Shaquala Tolefree, lives with her 11-year-old son and is struggling more than most. They lost everything in a fire and when they found a new apartment, they had nothing to furnish it with.

That's where Edna Campbell came in. She said they could use her old living room set and promised to deliver it Thursday.

"If I could have her keys, I could do it while she's at work," said Campbell. "She gave me the key. We're here."

Instead of an old couch a kitchen set, new beds and even some decorations were donated. Much of it was assembled by her son's classmates and teachers from the Oakland school of the Arts.

"I'm a single mother with an 12-year-old, I'm a single mother with an 11-year-old so I can put myself in her shoes and imagine what this must feel like," said Cava Menzies from Oakland School of the Arts.

Campbell's family has been doing this for more than a decade. Her daughter came up with the idea when they were facing their own foreclosure crisis. "I said let's focus elsewhere and it took our minds off what was affecting our own immediate family," Campbell told ABC7 News." It literally grew from there."

There's a great deal of pride and joy that goes along with being able to help someone in need and Campbell still gets emotional about it.

Tolefree was emotional too."This is like a miracle, it's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my life,"Thank you, thank you," she said.
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