Home Fashion Today Community steps up for Encinitas family who lost everything in devastating fire

Community steps up for Encinitas family who lost everything in devastating fire

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Community steps up for Encinitas family who lost everything in devastating fire

Jody White recalled hearing the smoke alarms at her Encinitas house around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday April 12.

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The three-year-old married mother thought it was a false call. But, as she was about halfway down the stairs, she heard the roar of the garage burning and the shouts of a neighbor. Within the next few frantic and confusing minutes, White was able to call 911 and gather her children — her husband, James, was out of town that night — and escape the home safely, but with nothing more than the pajamas they were wearing.

The Whites’ home of 12 years and all of their possessions were a total loss. So was the inventory, fabric and sewing equipment for Jody’s home-based online women’s clothing business, All That Apparel. That was the family’s sole source of income since James was recently laid off from his advertising and marketing job, which also left the family without medical insurance. The home was insured.

If there could be a silver lining to the White family’s story, it’s the outpouring of community support that has occurred in the past few days. On Tuesday, April 12, neighbors, friends and family launched a GoFundMe campaignThe family raised $73,000 towards a $100,000 goal in three days. During this time, friends offered temporary lodging to the Whites while they were out of town. Friends have set up a meal train to feed the family, and a neighbor has started collecting cash and gift cards to help the family with other immediate needs.

Carrie Jones, one of the GoFundMe campaign’s fundraising team leaders, has been one of Jody’s close friends for 10 years. She said the Whites are well liked in Encinitas. Their children are involved in theater and school sports, and the family has a long history giving back.

“Jody is one of the most humble people I know,”Jones stated. “The week before the fire she took the children down to Mexico to build homes for people. She lives by showing up for others. Encinitas is a smaller community but the outpouring of love for the family stretches beyond the city’s borders.”

The White family of Encinitas. From top left, Scarlett to Grayson, James, Jody, and Kingsley.

(Jody White)

James and Jody White moved to Encinitas from James’ native England in 2010. Their 12-year-old twins, Grayson, and Scarlett, were both born in London, and their youngest son, Kingsley, was also born here. Jody was a passionate community activist and advocate for marginalized groups such as the LGBTQ (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities. As co-founder and vice-president of the community group Encinitas 4 EqualityAfter George Floyd’s death in May 2020, protests were organized at the Cardiff Kook statue.

“I’m an activist by nature,”She spoke. “I believe if you have the opportunity to raise your voice for others who are not heard, you should. For me that is an obligation.”

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Looking for a creative way to tap her design skills while caring for her children from home, Jody started her sustainability-focused business three years ago. She began by making earrings out of scraps of leather and eventually expanded to a full line of women’s clothing and accessories. To find a sustainable way to use deadstock fabric that fashion houses don’t want anymore, she purchases unsold rolls of fabric and creates items based on those designs.

She had about 100 rolls of fabric, pop-up tents and clothing racks in her garage. She also had clothing inventory she was selling on local street fairs. The fire started in the garage, and spread to the second floor, which was her sewing area, before razing her entire home. Her car was also damaged in the fire.

“I was right in the middle of production for summer and now all of that’s gone,”She spoke. “I have to start over and I don’t know how yet. I can’t think about that. I’m living minute to minute right now. I’m just trying to show up for my kids and breathe.”

Jones said the team of friends who are helping the Whites are concentrating their initial efforts in getting Jody’s business back up and running to give the family some breathing room while James continues his search for a new job. They’re also working quickly to get the family clothing and school supplies for the children.

White stated that she prefers to give back to the community and so, accepting all the help, donations, meals, and assistance from others was overwhelming and challenging.

“It’s been really hard to just accept it,”She spoke. “But being an activist I’m drawn to the uncomfortable. I recognize that and I’m trying to walk into that and receive it. I’m so humbled and so grateful for all the support that has come in. The whole thing is unimaginable.”

Jones said Jody was initially embarrassed about the fundraising campaign she launched for her family. She insisted that the GoFundMe page be closed, but her friends persuaded her to let it go.

“The response to Jody was, ‘No, we’re not turning it off. We’re going to say yes for you. Nobody is giving what they don’t want to give,’ ”Jones stated. “We’re doing this for Jody because she is light. She is joy, and her family is joy. To see that coming back to them is really important.”

Visit this page to learn more about the fire recovery efforts. gofundme.com/f/help-the-white-family-after-house-fire.

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