HUNTINGTON — On Oct. 5, Sharon Renee Carroll gave birth to a healthy baby girl.
Two weeks later, Carroll died of complications from COVID-19. She never got to hold her baby.
The 44-year-old occupational therapist, of Huntington, leaves behind her husband, Mike Carroll, three stepchildren, her parents and siblings. She is among the 20 COVID-19-related deaths in Cabell County and 413 statewide.
“She was always smiling,” said Beth Ferrell, Carroll’s friend. “She was quiet, and I’m loud, so we balanced each other out. I loved hanging out with her and being around her.”
Ferrell recalled this summer when she was looking for a bike for her 12-year-old son. Because of the pandemic, they were hard to find. Renee and Mike Carroll gave him one for free.
“That’s the kind of people they were,” she said.
And now, the community is working to pay the family back in kind.
A GoFundMe page was started for the family, which has raised more than $13,000 and has a goal of $15,000.
Christ Temple Church is having a drop-off shower for items for the baby, as the Carrolls were not able to have a baby shower. Donations can be dropped off anytime this week or from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Oct. 24. The family prefers Pampers Swaddlers diapers sizes 1-5, wipes, and gift cards for Target and DoorDash. Donations may also be dropped off at Henson and Kitchen Mortuary in Huntington, which is assisting the family with arrangements.
Ferrell, an independent seller of Color Street, had a live sale and donated all her proceeds to the family. Several of her customers donated extra money. Her friend in Chesapeake is organizing a fundraiser and already received a $200 donation from someone who was a complete stranger to Carroll. Someone who used to go to church with Ferrell but now lives in Texas sent between eight and 10 Amazon boxes to Ferrell filled with items for the baby.
“A lot of people were touched by this story,” Ferrell said. “Complete strangers are doing stuff. The way the world is now, people see a lot of dark. But this is proof there is still a lot of good in people.”
Ferrell met Carroll three years ago at a marriage retreat at her church. Mike Carroll was doing the sound for the event, and Ferrell offered to make Renee feel comfortable. Their friendship blossomed from there, bonding over their shared experience of building relationships with their stepchildren.
The pain of her loss is coupled with the memory of losing another best friend shortly after childbirth 10 years ago. Ferrell said she’s seen the silver lining in that loss — the family is now able to celebrate the life of their mother. She said she prays Mike will be able to reach that point one day.
But until then, the community is wrapping its arms around the father of four as he navigates recovering from the virus himself and prepares to raise his newborn daughter.
For Anniston, Carroll’s baby girl, Ferrell said she wanted her to know her mother loved her and was excited for her to come into this world.
“She would have done anything to be here, but God needed her more than we did,” Ferrell said.
Funeral services for Renee Carroll will be at noon Saturday at Lewis Memorial Baptist Church, her home church. Burial will follow in Wayne County. The family will host a visitation from 10 a.m. until the service Saturday. Guests are urged to wear masks and to follow other CDC guidelines, including physical distancing.
The GoFundMe page can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/expenses-for-the-family-of-renee-carroll.