Through word of mouth, donations began pouring in from across the North Shore.
“People were leaving stuff at the police station for us,” Darin said. “We’d get calls from the police department saying there’s a bag of stuff for us and I would go fill up the car.”
Initially, the family moved in with Trina’s mother in Beverly, but the cape-style house wasn’t big enough to add two more adults, two children and a dog.
Darin began searching for a place to rent while the family’s home was cleaned out and rebuilt. The hard part for the Chin-Aleong’s was finding a place where Mulligan could live with them. Eventually, Darin and his family moved into a townhouse at Avalon Essex in Peabody.
Even after settling into their townhouse and knowing that within a year they’d be able to move home, the Chin-Aleong’s still suffered through the heartbreak, especially Darin.
Working at the course, Darin would see people carrying his family’s objects out of the house and loading them into a tractor trailer bound for a Pennsylvania landfill.
“The hardest thing is it never burned down, but it took them like three months to get everything out and bagged,” Darin said.
They could see their possessions, but couldn’t take them back. All of those things just served as a reminder of the fire.
“Darin I think had commented at one point that it almost would have been better to have it burn to the ground so you couldn’t see the stuff,” Trina said. “I think he said it matter-of-factly, but we could still see the physical stuff and know it’s our but we can’t have it. That was a hard lesson to learn.”