Oklahoma Family Finds Help From Oregon Strangers

Saturday, February 10th 2007, 2:09 pm
By: News On 6

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) _ An Oklahoma couple with three children who lost nearly everything they own in a U-Haul truck theft are making a fresh start in Oregon with help from strangers offering whatever they can to a family in need.

One of those strangers was Kimberly Trent-Andersch, who heard reports about the Oklahoma family and drove to their motel, where she found Rachel Nicole Bennett, gave her a hug and wrote her a check for $1,000.

Then she asked if she could do more.

``I hope she lets me,'' Trent-Andersch said, ``because I have some furniture and am in a position to do everything I can.''

Bennett was overwhelmed Friday by offers of clothes, computers, apartments, food, toys _ ``anything you can think of'' _ that came in after people learned of her story. ``At the same time, this is the worst and best thing that ever happened,'' she said.

Last week, Bennett and her boyfriend, Eddie Fagan, left Oklahoma with their three kids and took off for Oregon, all their possessions packed into a moving truck. They crept through storms, often driving slower than 40 mph as they made their way west.

On Monday, they arrived in the Portland area, parked the rented U-Haul and checked into a motel.

They woke Thursday to find the truck gone. Except for a few changes of clothes, they had almost nothing except their car and a dwindling reserve of money. Clackamas County sheriff's deputies found the truck about 11 p.m. Thursday in Damascus, but it was empty.

Bennett said she and her two children came to Oregon with Fagan and his 12-year-old son after the couple had been laid off from what Bennett described as ``mediocre jobs'' at a restauarant in Altus, Okla.

Fagan, however, got good news from the Oregon company in suburban Milwaukie where he worked for several years in the 1990s. Pacific/Hoe, Saw and Knife has rehired him, and asked him to report to work right away, said Bob Bradstreet, a company supervisor.

When he got to the job, Fagan was immediately presented with $5,000 in cash and $1,000 in gift cards for the family to buy clothes and furnishings.

``I'm speechless,'' Fagan said. ``I know things will work out.''