Southfield family that lost everything in fire pays it forward after donation

Children to buy gifts for others

By Evrod Cassimy - Reporter/Anchor, Kayla Clarke

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. - A local family that lost everything in a house fire is paying it forward after receiving a generous donation.

Firefighters and police officers in Southfield met at a Meijer store to make sure a number of families had gifts to open this holiday season. They'll be able to provide nearly 30 children with gifts for the holidays.

Jamiela Sullivan and her three children are one out of 20 families that were able to shop. They lost everything in a house fire and are now living in a friend's apartment.

"It was August the 28, my daughter was over at my best friends house. I went in the kitchen to start to cook, I ran to the other room for a minute and the two youngest ones came running over to me screaming, 'It was a fire,'" Sullivan said.

Southfield Fire Chief Johnny Menifee gets involved every year and brings the work he does saving lives and fighting fires full circle.

"It's a chance for us to give back, a chance for us to actually walk with the child and go back to our childhood with them, and actually let them pick out gifts," Menifee said. "A lot of times at the end of the fire, and our investigators start investigating the fires, we feel a little helpless that we can't do more. And this is one way that we can reach out to individuals that have been affected by fire and been displaced. This is a way we can give back to them."

"I am so excited and the kids are so excited they didn't even sleep last night," Sullivan said.

But for Sullivan's children, it isn't just about getting stuff for themselves. Each child gets to spend $100, and her children are using that money to buy gifts for others.

"That's the type of son I have, right there," Sullivan said.

Sullivan said it's her faith in God that's kept going after losing everything. She's rebuilding slowly but surely and is grateful for the support from first responders.

If you’d like to contact Jamiela for help, send her an email at

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