PINSON, Ala. (WIAT) — For Randa Ragland, it all started with a letter in the mail. No return address, no name, just words.
“I opened it and it was pretty much [the sender] shaming me for my yard,” Ragland said.
The writer of that letter accused Ragland of not caring about her home. At one point, the sender wrote that “your eyesore is affecting the resale value of our homes,” and that Ragland needed to “do better.”
“At first, I felt a little angry,” she said. “But so much has been going on with us and our family. I just didn’t have the energy to be negative.”
That’s because her focus has been on her family, especially her 3-year-old son, Jaxen.
“He’s autistic and he’s non-verbal,” Ragland said. “But, a few days before his third birthday is when he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma stage four cancer.”
Ragland told CBS 42 that throughout his life, Jaxen has been hospitalized over 20 times and has had seven surgeries.
In an attempt to encourage her Facebook friends to be empathetic and kind to their neighbors, Ragland made a Facebook post with the letter and Jaxen’s story.
“My whole point was to show people you don’t know what somebody’s going through,” she said. “Kindness goes such a long way. Gratitude goes such a long way.”
The next thing she knew, a lawn care service arrived at her home and cut her grass, no questions asked.
But it didn’t stop there.
Dozens of volunteers organized and jumped into action. Some rushed to the store to pick up supplies for Ragland’s family. Others grabbed chainsaws and pitched in to tidy up her home.
Every person that showed up to Ragland’s home Saturday afternoon was a complete stranger to her.
“Look at this! This is love,” said Joey Harding, one of the volunteers. “This is love for a stranger. We don’t even know these people.”
For Harding, this showing of community support has a very different meaning. Less than two weeks prior, he said goodbye to his six-year-old daughter, LuLu, for the last time.
She had the exact same form of cancer that Jaxen has.
“Words can’t describe what this means to me right now,” Harding said. “It’s helping me. It’s helping me cope with losing my daughter. To help another family in need.”
The group assisting Ragland’s family has dubbed themselves “Jaxen’s Army for Justice.” They told CBS 42 that they’re prepared to support the family every step of the way.
“I’m in amazement. I’m still in shock,” Ragland said. “I don’t have a large family. My mom is gone, my dad is gone, my brother is gone, so this means a lot.”
The family is still in need of support. To assist with Jaxen’s medical bills, donate to the family’s GoFundMe page here.
Volunteers are also needed, especially those with home improvement skills. Anyone wishing to provide their services may contact Kimberly Quick at firstname.lastname@example.org.