A Marietta family who lost everything in a house fire last Wednesday is now facing the holidays, but not alone.
The American Iron Riders invited the family to participate in their annual Shop with a Biker event. When they couldn’t make it, the group decided to take their three kids shopping the week after. The gesture quickly turned into a group effort to help the family as much as possible.
Iron Rider Tony Robinson said in the time between Shop with a Biker and Saturday, the group raised $1,460, which they presented to the family after driving them en masse from Marietta to the Ardmore Walmart.
“We had some other donations,” Robinson said. “$550 of it was just passing the hat from the club, another $250 was a check from the club, and we had a potential new member donate $300. We’re very honored to be a very small part of it and to be able to participate.”
Just like Shop with a Biker, Jena, Ian and Evan Mullinax all got $100 to spend on Christmas gifts. Their parents Anna and Jeff Mullinax said when the Iron Riders contacted them, they didn’t know the scope of what they had planned.
“Iron Riders called us last week,” Jeff said. “We had no idea. They called and said they wanted to take our kids Christmas shopping. We didn’t know it was going to be so big.”
The Marietta Police Department and Love County Sheriff’s Department are accepting donations for the family, and have set up an account in the family’s name at First National Bank in Marietta. The family is staying in an apartment temporarily while they look for a house. First Tennessee Bank, Anna’s employer, offered to pay for the apartment for three months.
“That was my immediate concern, and my boss called and said ‘we’ve got it,’ and I am so grateful,” Anna said. “In a crisis, it is notable how people have really come together to support us and to help us. To make sure our children are taken care of, to make sure they could go to school the next day with clean clothes, to make sure we had a place to lay our heads.”
Even though the family’s most immediate needs have been met, they still have a lot of decisions and a long road ahead of them.
“I was telling Jeff the other day that everything needs to just slow down,” Anna said. “Then I was like ‘Wait. It hasn’t even been a week.’ But that’s how time is, weird for us right now.”
Iron Riders Vice President Harold Jones said the group found out about the Mullinax family through one of their members, who works for the City of Marietta.
“She told us how he lost his home while he was out there helping with all of the fires west of town and explained they’d lost everything,” Jones said. “I couldn’t imagine losing everything I owned in a fire like that, so everybody was gracious, opened their hearts and donated what they could.”