On New Year’s Eve, the McGuinness family lost everything to a fire that ripped through their west Forsyth home, but in the days since they have gained a community of new family members that has rallied to help rebuild their lives.
The Forsyth County Fire Department responded to a fire in a neighborhood off of Post Road late New Year’s Eve and found the McGuinness home 50-percent involved with flames.
According to fire officials the home was evacuated with no injuries, but the structure was a total loss due to the extent of the damage.
“For the size and intensity of the fire, we are just extremely grateful that everyone made it out alive,” said Hallie McGuinness, oldest of the McGuinness’ three daughters.
Added Hallie McGuinness: “We pretty much lost about absolutely everything we owned: cars, clothes, valued items, passed down family items, and of course, our home.”
Over the past week, thousands of donations have come pouring in from across the county, from residents who want to help the family rebuild their life.
“I knew we lived in an awesome community, but this is just above and beyond what we ever expected,” said Leslie McGuinness, Hallie’s mother.
“We pretty much lost about absolutely everything we owned: cars, clothes, valued items, passed down family items, and of course, our home.”Hallie McGuinness
Leslie McGuinness said that her family has been blown away by the response from the community, and that strangers have “come out of the woodwork” to bring them cash donations.
“We are all humbled by the support,” she said.
“I won’t even know most of these people to be able to thank them and hug them for what they have done ... We will forever pay it forward and these people will forever be woven into the fabric of our lives,” Leslie McGuinness said.
According to Madison Chambers, a senior at West Forsyth High School and friend of the family, this is what happens when a community takes care of its own.
“They are just good people,” she said.
“When something like this happens, people say ‘that shouldn’t have happened to them’... I mean, their house is empty,” Chambers said.
Chambers is one of several close friends and neighbors who took it upon themselves to help the displaced family.
She helped get clothes and makeup for the McGuinness daughters.
Hallie McGuinness said the family is “so blessed to have such a wonderful community of people who have already overwhelmed us with an outpouring amount of love, support, prayers, money, GoFundMe accounts, clothes and food this far.”
As of press time, more than $14,000 had been raised for the family by the two GoFundMe pages set up for the family, but every day more donations are coming in from all over Forsyth County.
“We have such a caring community that has filled us with so much warmth and compassion during this time. We are so thankful for everyone who has helped this far and for all the prayers,” Hallie McGuinness said.
“They are part of the West family, and we are going to try and support them any way that we can,” said West Forsyth High School Principal Karl Mercer.
Chambers said that Mercer’s sentiment is the norm during tragic events, and that students at the school look to each other for comfort when bad things happen.
“Every day [Mercer] starts the day by saying ‘we are West Forsyth, we are family’ over the intercom. And at first we laughed about it a little, but it’s true, and you see it when bad things happen,” she said.
Donations to the McGuinness family GoFundMe pages can be made at, www.gofundme.com/mcguinnessfamily and www.gofundme.com/forsyth-family-in-need.