Chesapeake, Va. - Leita Watson strives to be a role model for her three sons.
She works full time and just completed her degree at ECPI Medical Institute.
But she says the hustle and bustle of her everyday life led to a kitchen fire in the Commerce Avenue duplex she had been renting.
“I went to fix something to eat, forgot, left the stove on and walked to the library to do something else for school.” Watson added, "This just felt like a setback like I have to start over again."
The fire happened earlier this month. The same day the 30-year-old found out she was finally a college graduate.
"[I] got an email at the same time I was standing out here with the ambulance, the fire department saying welcome to ECPI alumni," Watson said.
While Watson describes feeling defeated, her neighbors describe her as an inspiration.
"She's a real person, she's humble and yet she's motivated," said Tiffany Jedson.
That's why Tiffany Jedson is taking action to collect donations for the single mom. She set up an email account at firstname.lastname@example.org for anyone interested in helping out.
Not only did the fire ruin all of Watson's kitchen appliances, she says she lost most of her children's clothing and other household necessities to smoke damage.
"When I'm already behind and barely making it, it just makes it worse," Watson said.
But its neighbors like Jedson who are there to remind her to keep going.
"No matter what life throws at you, you've got it, you can do this, you can get up, you can go to work, you can go to school, you can take care of your children, you can overcome a house fire,” Jedson said.
It's something NewsChannel 3 wanted Watson to know she didn’t have to do alone.
That’s why we took action and surprised her with a $1,000 shopping spree at Target on Military Highway in Norfolk.
We helped her fill three carts with new kitchen appliances, bedding and clothes for her growing boys.
Turns out, spending your boss’ money is easy, especially when it brings some peace of mind to a hard working mother like Watson.
“I am very, very thankful and appreciative of NewsChannel 3. It's a very big help and I don't know that I could have done this much alone so I thank you very much,” Watson said.