Contractors Rebuild Lancaster Family's Home for Christmas

By Ben Russell
|  Wednesday, Dec 18, 2013  |  Updated 11:39 PM CDT
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A family in Lancaster lost their home during the tornado outbreak in April 2012. They were surprised to learn that contractors rebuilt the family's home just in time for Christmas.

Ben Russell, NBC 5 News

A family in Lancaster lost their home during the tornado outbreak in April 2012. They were surprised to learn that contractors rebuilt the family's home just in time for Christmas.

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A Sachse home remodeling company's Christmas party was unlike any other this year.

DFW Design and Remodeling teamed up with 17 other contractors to help rebuild a home free of charge for a Lancaster family who lost everything in the tornado outbreak of April 2012.

The contractors used the holiday party as the time and place to present the owner with the keys to her home.

"Really, DFW Design decided to take their Christmas party and convert it into a surprise party for Tina [McCray]" said Kevin Otto, of Seconds and Surplus, one of the many companies who helped make the rebuild possible.

Tina McCray, a single mother of five and a music teacher at Lancaster's West Main Elementary School, and her family members were invited guests to DFW Design's Christmas party Wednesday night. But none of them knew they were the guests of honor. Or what present they would receive.

A rented party bus delivered the McCray's to the party, where dozens of other guests and workers who had donated their labor and supplies were waiting.

"I thought we were just gonna come to a Christmas party, have a little fun, give me something to do since I've been going through a lot," McCray said.

On April 3, 2012, 22 tornadoes ripped through North Texas. One of them - an EF2 tornado - cut a 13-mile path through Lancaster, tossing tractor trailers high in the air and damaging approximately 650 houses.

The McCray family home was one of them.

Not long after the storm, the McCray's hired a contractor to start the rebuild.

"Unfortunately he decided not to fulfill his part of the end, or his end of the bargain in building her house, and ran off with her money," Sterling Gonzalez of DFW Design said. "I couldn't imagine. I'd be completely devastated."

Instead, McCray contacted Randy Hague of Seconds and Surplus in Dallas, asking if the company had any extra flooring they could donate.

Hague said that phone call became a 30-minute conversation that inspired the company to pitch in much more than flooring.

"It's been a great project," Hague said about donating so much time and effort for who he calls a wonderful woman.

Moments after sitting down Wednesday night, Don Tripplet of DFW Design took out a microphone and revealed the true purpose of the party.

"We want to present you with a photo of your house, since we're not actually at your house and a key to your front door," Tripplet announced to a round of applause.

McCray graciously accepted, laughing and wiping tears from her eyes.

"I just want to give thanks to God for bringing and sending y'all my way. Thank you," McCray said to the crowd.

"We've been through a lot. It's almost two years and we ready to go home. We ready to go home. And they're making it possible," McCray said.

More presents awaited the McCray's after the presentation of the key.

Many of the guests at the party brought housewarming gifts to help fill her new home, and others donated money so she could purchase some new furniture.

The plan is for the McCray's to move in before Christmas.

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