The public response to the arson attack and burglary of 92-year-old Pearl Sanger's home was unlike any I have experienced as an editor.
Pearl went home yesterday, her home repaired and renovated almost seven weeks after she was burgled and someone set it alight while she was in hospital.
Pearl had insurance, so she didn't need money for the repairs.
But still, the money came in, along with gifts.
The Northern Advocate co-ordinated Pearl's appeal for her family. As an editor, I have seen appeals raise more money. Or a greater volume of items.
But I haven't experienced the depth of public support and sentiment that was evident for Pearl.
People could have easily thought "Well, she's insured so she doesn't need anything."
But they didn't.
At 92, people clearly figured Pearl didn't deserve the bad luck that was dealt to her.
She was in hospital when her home was wrecked - that struck a chord.
She was elderly - that struck a chord.
She didn't complain, she missed the simple things that the burglary robbed her of, her favourite chair, her books (crime novels, ironically).
And so the momentum continued, gifts kept coming in, people called the Advocate and said "What does she need?"
An anonymous Whangarei couple arranged for author Lee Child to send Pearl an autographed book.
That day, in the Oxford dictionary, next to "Gobsmacked" it said "adj; Pearl Sanger."
I think we also cared for Pearl because at some point, we've all had or have a "Pearl" in our own families. And I think we also respected the fact, that this aptly named widow, at the age of 92, shone brightly despite her adversity.
Her parents named her well, she is indeed, an absolute pearl.