When a house fire killed a beloved mother and son, this community raised over $130,000 in 7 days
Posted February 6
A community came together to support a family after a heart breaking disaster killed a mother of six children and one of her sons, and destroyed almost all the family's possessions.
Juliet Arnett and her son, Joshua, were in their home in Queen Creek, Arizona, when a fire broke out, trapping them both on the second floor.
Sam Arnett, the husband and father to the victims, tried getting into the house once he realized someone might still be inside.
He rushed to the backyard to enter the rear entrance of the house. One neighbor, Scott Gifford, ran to help him after smelling burning plastic. By then the blaze in the house was too hot, making it impossible to enter the home.
“Every time he tried, there was just a wall of flame and smoke,” Jon Arnett, the eldest of the six Arnett children, said.
When the firetrucks arrived, it was too late for the mother and child.
The Arnetts are a beloved family in their community, and when their neighbors and friends heard about the deaths of Juliet and Joshua, many reached out with stories of how the family have touched their lives.
Joshua had autism, and many mentioned the great love Juliet showed in caring for him.
“Your beautiful wife was so kind to reach out to me a number of times when our son was diagnosed [with autism],” wrote Emily Moffat, on the Arnett's GoFundMe page. “She showed her deep love for Josh through her service to him his whole life… Our thoughts and prayers are with you constantly.”
Another friend, Richard Garlock, said the family was a great example of true love. He was always impressed by the kind of people they are.
The Arnetts had been renting their home from Dennis and Jeannie Latendresse, who graciously donated and helped the family.
“We are the owner of the house and we are so sorry for the tragedy and loss of lives in the house fire,” they said. “They are a very loving and hard-working family. Our prayers are with their family. Let us know if there is anything we can do on our part.”
Teachers, parents and friends commented they would miss 12-year-old Joshua’s beautiful smiles and wishes the family their deepest condolences.
The community mourned the loss of Juliet and Joshua by showing an overwhelming amount of support for the Arnett family. They raised money through bake sales, a fun walk and in social media. The money has gone to cover funeral costs, replace the family’s possessions and get them into a new home. Many offered the family furniture donations.
A friend of one of the Arnett children started a GoFundMe page that has helped raise over $130,000 in just seven days from 1,967 strangers and friends. Many donor comments showed evidence of how many lives the family has touched.
The community raised funds by holding a family walk and pancake breakfast. Parents of the Arnett children's friends raised money through a bake sale and a donation stand.
Friends sold t-shirts saying “J&J” in remembrance of Juliet and Joshua. The entire purchase costs went to the Arnett family. Various other fundraisers were started to support the Arnetts.
The donations are helping the family, who did not have life or renters insurance policies, cover the financial burden of the fire. Jon expressed his gratitude for the love shown to his family by so many people.
“We’re never going to have a way to repay them,” Jon said. “Nothing is going to replace the most perfect mom and the sweetest little brother that anyone has ever had, but this is definitely helping, feeling how loved we are by everybody.”
He believes he will see his mother and brother again. This hope is helping them get through this.
The family expressed much gratitude to all those that have helped, both anonymous and known. Jon hopes people will remember his brother for his smile and his mother as someone who put other's needs before her own.
Kristina Tieken is a publics relations specialist with a love for the fine arts, food and exercise. She enjoys spending time with her husband and family.