Early Friday morning, the Whitehead family had already gone off to school and work, with no idea what the day had in store for them: A fire broke out at their home that day, destroying it completely.
There is no known cause for the fire yet, but John Whitehead said they expect to learn something in a few weeks. “I raised my family here,” he said. The place the Whiteheads called home for nearly 30 years is gone.
A flyer made by Rachel Whitehead describes her father-in-law as a single father, and a long-time volunteer at the Salvation Army in Edgewood, “usually in the book area helping others.”
The fire resulted in a total loss of the home, along with all of the family’s belongings, including perhaps 2,500 books and some 6,000 movies. Building the collection “was a 20-year labor of love,” he said. “We lost everything in the world, materially, but it showed us the outreach of the East Mountain community is a great thing that happened. The generosity of the people, community, fellow co-workers, strangers—that’s all we’ve got left,” Whitehead said.
The Whitehead family is strong and grateful that no one was home that day, Whitehead said, adding, “We could have been home, we could have been asleep. It could have been much, much worse. We are grateful to be here today.”
The Whitehead family was placed in a hotel while the investigation continues.
“We will be getting another home to put right back in the same place,” Whitehead said, “but may be short by some twenty to thirty-five thousand dollars. So every penny that gets donated is going towards putting a roof over my children’s heads.”
The Whitehead family consists of John, Ana, Marcus and Michael. The family’s pet cat perished in the fire.
The community is rallying around the family, creating a gofundme.com page (search “Whitehead Family Fire Relief” to find it); an account at Wells Fargo (Reference number 7584941194); a youcaring.com page can be found by searching for reference number 1031688; and drop locations have been set up around the area to help the family replace necessities like furniture.
Items needed include kitchen items like pots and pans, along with three beds, desks and bookcases, down to cleaning supplies and Christmas decorations. In Edgewood, items or donations may be dropped off at Mr. Gas Mart, Mountain Valley Church, or will be picked up by volunteers and friends of the family. In Moriarty, items may be dropped off at Dollar General and Pizza 9.
The following is a list of Donation Drop off places & People whom are collecting donations, and where to send monetary donations to help get this family back into their home.
Whitehead offered a “great big thank you” to the East Mountain community for its love and support during a trying time for his family: “It is nothing short of remarkable, something I could have never expected, especially from complete strangers—thank you.”
To learn more, visit the crowdfunding sites listed above, or contact 505-281-9432, 505-659-7382 or 505-301-8301.
Leota started working for The Independent in 2006, working her way up through the ranks. An employee buyout in 2010 led to her ownership of the newspaper. Leota has served on the board of the N.M. Press Association, and is currently its First Vice President. She is passionate about health and wellness, especially mental health, and loves making art. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.