Hurricane Matthew wiped out her family's home, and 15-year-old Nicolette Salvato despaired, as only a teenage girl can, that she would miss homecoming.
As it turned out, about the only thing missing was a carriage carved from a pumpkin.
Fifteen-year-old Nicolette Salvato had her heart set on dressing up and going to her high school’s homecoming dance. But there were some very real, and very heartbreaking, obstacles to getting there.
Her family’s home had just burned to the ground, destroying every possession her family hadn’t carried with them when they evacuated their Florida house ahead of Hurricane Matthew.
Her mother, Courtney, told her anxious daughter they would have to wait for her next paycheck to see if she could somehow scrape together enough money to buy a ticket for the event.
Meanwhile, the deadline to purchase tickets came and went.
But the community of Haines City came to Nicolette’s rescue.
“I got a pile of donations, including a dress,” her incredulous mother told InsideEdition.com Thursday night.
They don’t know how word got out.
“People we didn’t even know started calling,” Courtney said. “A school administrator made a call and (Nicolette) ended up getting a ticket. Then it went from the dress to the shoes to the make-up to the nails. She felt like a real Cinderella.”
“We were staying in the back of a camper trailer in the back of our friend’s yard. Isn’t that amazing? There are so many bad stories out there and then something like this happens.”
A local bridal shop said Nicolette could come in and pick any formal or bridesmaid dress her heart desired, as well as a pair of shoes. "They did the alterations,” her mother said. “They dyed her shoes to match.”
A nail salon donated a manicure, a florist donated a corsage. Everything happened last Friday, before the dance started that night.
School even let her take the day off to get ready.
“I’m just so thankful, and so humbled,” her mom said.
Nicolette didn’t need a date. She went by herself and met up with her friends after being dropped off by her mom.
Courtney says the family has a new rental home, just 10 minutes away from the burned hulk of their home – also a rental. “We didn’t have renter’s insurance,” her mother rued. “I’ll never do that again.”
The family isn’t sure what sparked the fire in their home.
Since then, people in the community have donated shoes and clothing. “I’m just on my way to pick up a bed set for Nicolette,” she said.
They will survive, she says, with the help of their neighbors. And with the memory of what the community did so one heartsick teenage girl could feel like a princess for just one night.
“It was absolutely amazing. People we didn’t even know came together for her.”