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‘Extreme Makeover' home draws thousands to help

It's like there's pixie dust fallout on Sudbury Road – a feel-good current as thousands of strangers pour energy into Charlotte's “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” project.

Volunteers have been working around the clock since Wednesday on a new home for the family of Curtis and Alisha King, home day-care operators selected by the ABC show because of their community service.

“It's nice to feel you're doing something positive for a family that's doing positive things in the community,” said volunteer Rebecca Ripple, a pre-school teacher from Concord. “We need more positive people.”

Ripple came Saturday with about 40 volunteers from Ruckus House Learning Center to do sanding, cleanup and other tasks.

“You just can't help but get caught up in the positive energy,” said Connie McNeely of Charlotte. Her 13-year-old son Kent had been coming to the site all week, nagging lead builder Rick Merlini to let his dad join the build.

Merlini said he liked Kent's persistence and on Saturday, the dad – Grant McNeely, a Charlotte general contractor – was sweating away on the job. “It's like a family atmosphere out here,” McNeely said.

Returning the blessings

JoAnn Cameron of Charlotte worked at a station at nearby Eastland Mall, uniting volunteers with hard hats and blue T-shirts.

She understands better than many the miracle of helpful strangers.

Eleven years ago this month, she gave birth to quadruplets. But one son, Mac, died 18 months later from lingering health problems.

Strangers showed up at their house to help. Church groups brought things they needed and people helped care for their home and family.

“I felt it on one side and the King family is going to feel it, too – how much people care.”

For some volunteers, shifts went longer than planned.

Eddie Stewart with Air Today of Charlotte arrived about midnight Thursday to finish installation of heating and air conditioning, a Honeywell system that uses ultraviolet light and microfilters to combat spores and mold. Laila King, 7, suffers from asthma.

But an overnight rain delayed construction. Stewart and his team napped in trucks until about 7 a.m. Friday when they were able to get into the house to finish the system, worth more than $45,000, which included 14 SEER heat pumps donated by Ferguson Heating & Cooling and Goodman Manufacturing.

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