AUBURN | For more than eight years, Tiffanie and Joe McLean have been employed in the human services industry, working to help the community they live in. And Saturday afternoon, the community gave back to the Cayuga couple in their time of need.
The McLeans — along with their two daughters and dog — narrowly made it out of the blaze that razed their their 1237 Spring Street Road last Sunday morning and destroyed everything the family owned.
"We had the clothes on our backs," Tiffanie McLean said.
But the family was not without help. Hours after the fire left the couple and their children without a home, the community had already organized a benefit to help the family rebuild their lives.
"The fire happened at 10 a.m., and by 10 p.m., the event's up on Facebook," McLean said. "Joe and I are speechless."
Standing near the front door inside Big Kahuna's, McLean said everything she and her family were wearing was donated to them.
"We're staying with my sister until we find temporary housing," she said.
Dozens of people filled Big Kahuna's Saturday afternoon to enjoy an evening of unique food and live music — all while helping the family afford a rental residence while they rebuild their home, buy Christmas presents for their young girls and replace all the items they lost.
While attendees filled out tickets for a 50/50 drawing and bid for a slew of raffle items, DJ Jay Lancy introduced Dirtybirds, an Auburn band that entertained attendees during the benefit, and thanked the chefs for cooking up a range of unique treats, including teriyaki venison and Alaskan tacos stuffed with moose meat.
"A lot of hunters donated all the game this afternoon," Lacey explained.
Before her oldest daughter Mackenzie, 6, sang "I'm Gettin' Nuttin' For Christmas" with the Dirtybirds, McLean said she was amazed by how many people mobilized quickly to help her family get back on their feet after the fire.
And despite all they lost, McLean said she was grateful her family escaped with what mattered most: each other.
"We're all safe," she said, pulling Maya, her 2-year-old daughter, a bit closer.