Reporting John Lauritsen
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 9-year-old boy lost all his belongings in a house fire on Christmas Eve, but on Wednesday he received a special gift.
The boy and 13 of his family members were forced to jump out of windows to safety as flames burst through the roof of their north Minneapolis home early Monday morning.
Within hours, the house was destroyed, along with clothes, food, and 9-year-old O.B.’s hearing aids. Without them, he has to resort to reading lips.
“You have to come and grab him and tell him to his face. He doesn’t understand what’s going on right now either,” said O.B.’s sister, Chiquandlyn Perkins.
O.B. and his family are looking for a place to live, as donations come in. And when Starkey Hearing Foundation heard about what happened to O.B., they decided to step up with a donation of their own.
“The fire is the fire, but we can pitch in and help,” said founder Bill Austin.
Austin has traveled the world fitting underprivileged kids with hearing aids.
But for a few hours on the day after Christmas, Austin and his crew gave their time to O.B.
“Without hearing aids, he’s really isolated. He’s really cut off,” Austin said.
He was put through a hearing test. Then ear impressions were made.
The hearing aid was detailed, fitted, and after a tune-up, O.B. had his hearing back. It was an unexpected Christmas gift during a time when the child needed it most.
“There is nothing that makes you feel better than giving someone something that allows them to stand at their true height and be all that they can be,” Austin said.
O.B.’s new hearing aides are discreet. His family believes they will help him with his speech and in school.
Like Starkey, Pearle Vision is going to fit some of the family members with new prescription glasses for free.