Etheridge was working third shift at the county jail in Dallas the night of the fire on Jan. 31, said Jim McMichen, organizer of events to help Etheridge and her family.
“She was about to get off, and she got a call that someone in [her] house had called 9-1-1,” McMichen said.
When she arrived at the scene ,her Polk County house, which was insured, and truck had been engulfed in flames. All she had was the uniform on her back, he said.
After the tragedy McMichen helped plan a benefit dinner to raise money for the family. The event suggested attendees donate $15 per meal for adults and $10 for children.
McMichen was contacted to help raise money for the family, he said.
“I sit on a lot of different boards in the county,” McMichen said.
He also works as director of operations at Visiting Angels, a senior home health care company, which allowed McMichen time off to help out, he said. Between all of his involvement in the county, he was able to draw support for Etheridge.
“I always look to add value somewhere,” McMichen said.
He along with Justin White, general manager of Jim ’N’ Nicks restaurant in Hiram, and other sponsors hosted the dinner. Jim ’N’ Nicks catered the event, and served around 300 plates of food at the event, White said.
They also gave 15 percent of their proceeds from 5 to 9:30 p.m. on Feb. 11 to Etheridge as well.
“We had tons of phone calls from 2 p.m. on, to make sure we were doing that,” White said.
McMichen said he was happy to help.
“The cause was definitely worth the energy and effort behind it,” McMichen said.
Etheridge has declined all media requests about the fundraisers, said Paulding County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Cpl. Ashley Henson.
For more information on donating contact McMichen at firstname.lastname@example.org.