Couple finds hope in thousands of hearts that survive devastating fire

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By Jill Glavan

MONTPELIER, Ind. (September 3, 2014) -- Weeks after a flood and fire devastated their lives, one couple is finding hope in thousands of hearts that survived in the rubble.

The hearts, made of porcelain, were left behind in the building that once housed a glass shop. For the past seven years, it's where Earl and Kathy Gerstorff lived and ran their auto repair business.

On August 22, the communities surrounding the couple were buried in 10 inches of rain. The flood waters quickly rose inside their building.

"The water just kept rising and rising," Kathy Gerstorff said.

It rose so high that it reached their electrical system, sparking a fire that firefighters could not get to and that took down the entire building, killing their two dogs.

"I was devastated. I've cried about all I can cry. I've lost my whole life here," Earl Gerstorff said.

That could've been where their story ended. Instead, those hearts began to appear in the rubble. They estimated there are something like 50,000 of them, many with burn marks that the couple believe make them unique.

"They're just begging for a purpose," Kathy Gerstorff said.

So, they've begun a campaign online called "Rebuild Hearts." They're selling the hearts for $1 each, hoping to use the money not only to rebuild their lives, but to pay it forward to others who survive similar disasters.

It's a resourceful way to make the best of a bad situation, much like the couple said they've done for years as they've worked to run their own business and get by.

"They say home is where the heart is. ... My cousin posted, she said, 'Earl, there's thousands of hearts out there. Your heart's still there,' and she's right. It is," Gerstorff said.

You can find the Gerstorff's campaign and buy a heart at the link here.

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