EDGEWATER, Md (WMAR) — After an Edgewater family lost nearly everything in a house fire, a neighborhood business shocked them by immediately raising money to get them back on their feet.
“With everything that’s going on in this world, it really restores your faith in humanity,” said Nate Kellogg.
He had no idea what Nealey Auto Service had in store for him and his family Monday.
Kellogg knew they were raising money, but he was shocked to learn it was nearly $7,000, plus a sealed anonymous cash donation.
“It’s gonna help keep clothes on our back and start rebuilding. Come back stronger,” said Kellogg.
He said they plan to rebuild on their Shore Drive lot.
“We’ve been here for a while. It’s home,” said Kellogg. “My wife’s family has owned the house since it was built. We’ve been fortunate to be able to move in there and continue it in her family so it’s been tough for them.”
Last Tuesday, a propane tank exploded near the back of their home, and within moments the whole house was up in flames.
His wife was able to escape with their two dogs. He and his son Tyler rushed home. Their cat Patches is still missing. The fire destroyed their home and all its contents, a car and a boat.
What has helped keep them going has been the community.
“The overwhelming support of the community has just been amazing. We couldn’t have done it without them,” said Kellogg.
They are staying at a neighbors condo, a friend started a GoFundMe, and then the surprise from Nealey.
“It’s amazing. It’s humbling,’ said owner AJ Nealey.
Nealey said they were able to have so much success because of how their loyalty program is set up.
Customers earn points on purchases that can be used for future discounts.
In the past, they’ve run campaigns where customers can donate their rewards to a cause or charity and Nealey’s transfers the points into dollars. This was the first time they did it because of a tragedy.
“It was amazing the response that we got. Anonymous donations also being dropped off at the front office. Just everyone wanting to give back and wanting to help this family out,” said Nealey.
He said they won’t hesitate to do something like this again.
“We just really want to find a way to say thanks to the community that has helped us so much in our growth, as we’ve grown here in Edgewater. We just happen to work on cars but we really believe our core purpose of changing lives by inspiring values. What better way to show that. It gives us a ‘why’ as to why we get up every day. It’s not just for a job. It’s for a greater purpose,” said Nealey.