Winter in Oklahoma is no place to be without a coat. But after a November fire caused by faulty wiring in their Oklahoma City home left Joenita and Shelby Rhoades with virtually nothing, that is the reality they faced.
An anonymous donor gave their adopted 3-year-old son a coat to keep him warm during the family's time of struggle.
Shelby Rhoades has been a factory worker for more than a decade at Sooner Beer Co., and his boss gave the family a trailer home to stay in until their house is repaired, said Amy Mayen, a neighbor and friend of the family.
“I would really love it if we could have the home ready for them to move back into by Christmas. Sometimes I get overwhelmed and the days seem to go by so fast but I still think we can do it,” Mayen said.
Driven to help the Rhoades in any way possible, Mayen has begun posting ways that people can help the family on her blog at www.sewsnbows.com/operation-home-for-christmas/.
She created a Facebook event called “Operation: Home for Christmas” where people can learn about the Rhoades family and how they can help.
Mayen said the Rhodes family has received small private donations from neighbors and church members.
“I got an email today from a woman who wants to help with labor, and a woman who wants to donate blankets and bedding. Thank God for these people,” Mayen said on her blog.
Shelby Rhoades said he is taken aback by the support he has received from his community.
“The main thing I want everybody to know is how much I appreciate their help. Amy, and our other neighbors, and everyone else, they just stepped in to help without me even asking for it. I really appreciate it,” he said.
Mayen said the most recent form of assistance came from RDS I, a business that loans large trash containers to individuals and companies. Mayen said the business will loan the trash bin free of charge so the family can begin clearing away the debris from the fire.
Mayen said knowing the Rhoades family for eight years has allowed her to experience their generosity and feel even more compelled to help them.
“When I bought my house, it was a wreck. These neighbors showed up with tools ready to pitch in. They didn't even know me then. These are the kind of people who offer help to strangers. They stop when they see someone's car broken down. I don't know anyone who is more deserving of some help,” Mayen said on her website.
Tommy Hay is president of the RiverPark neighborhood association, where the Rhoades house is located.
“We try to move our community into a positive direction and to help people less fortunate to have a better quality of life. This whole movement was started by Amy. And that is a true neighbor,” Hay said.
Mayen said the Rhoades family needs tools to help them rebuild and supplies to help them get by until they can move back into their home.
To view the supply list or learn more about the family, visit Mayen's blog or her Facebook webpage at www.facebook.com/#!/events/430561760336211/.
Mayen can also be reached at 408-4515 or through emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.