Dozens of friends and strangers helped the Gunn family move and store motorcycles, furniture, photos and more under a strict eviction deadline. The patriarch, Justin Gunn, gave five years to the Army and another two decades to the National Guard. Lolita Lopez reports from Perris for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Dec. 28, 2012.
The Gunn family was evicted from their Perris home the day after Christmas, and had one hour on Friday to gather 42 years’ worth of personal belongings.
Tina Gunn – whose veteran husband, Justin, inherited the home from his parents – told her friend Laura Herzog about the looming eviction deadline, unaware that she would mobilize a group to help them gather up four decades of memories.
"I went to Facebook," Herzog said. "I called the Marines Corps. Those guys are amazing."
The founder of the non-profit organization, Honoring Our Fallen, felt compelled to lend a hand to a man who gave five years to the Army and another two decades to the National Guard.
"The fact that we are able to help them take all of their belongings so at least they have that, I can rest my head on a pillow tonight knowing that we did something good," Herzog said.
A military widow who had never met the Gunns, Dalan Encinas joined the effort.
"This is the second year since I lost my husband, second holiday that I didn't get to spend with him and just to come and help, I genuinely feel happy," Encinas said.
A neighbor even cut open a part of his fence and had the Gunn family’s possession brought to his barn.
Friends and strangers, young and old hauled away years of memories, including riding bikes and motorcycles belonging to 18-year-old Thomas Gunn.
"I actually had breathing room," Thomas said. "I got to do thing and it was just so fun."
"I hope whoever gets this house next appreciates it as much as I do," he said.
Friday’s eviction wasn’t easy for 12-year-old Reyanne Gunn, who had to say goodbye to the only home she’s ever known. Still, like the rest of her family, she’s grateful.
"We know that we can get everything out now, now that everyone is here," she said. "I’m overwhelmed. This is crazy and it worked."
The Gunns will be living with a family nearby. They say they’ll regroup and rebuild, but they’ll never forget the generosity they experienced during a difficult time.
"I got a lot of help, a lot of support, so I will move on," patriarch Justin Gunn said.