Sophomore Emily Arnholt heard pretty quickly about the Brentwood house fire that engulfed and destroyed the home of her classmates last Thursday night.

And, pretty quickly, she knew that she want to make an effort to help.


The Grisham family wasn’t home at the time of the fire, and the blaze was hard to contain by the time the Brentwood Fire Department was able to get on scene. Firefighters trying to battle the blaze inside the house were turned back when the ceiling started to fall. The house was a total loss.

In response, Arnholt said she wanted to do something that could help in their time of need, particularly with Christmas just two days away. So she created an account on the GoFundMe online platform.

“I made it because the Grisham family is a sweet family and they’ve done so much for other people,” Arnholt said. “They didn’t deserve this, and we wanted to be able reach out to them to help them with their future. The thing is – and I am not exaggerating – they are one of the sweetest, most loving families.”

Arnholt attends Brentwood High School with all three Grisham children – Will, Parkes and Neeley. The trio ranges from freshman to senior. Arnholt said she set up the GoFundMe account late Thursday night. Within six hours, more than $10,000 had been raised. She checked back in three hours later with $25,000 raised. By 3 p.m. on Friday afternoon, Arnholt’s account raised up to nearly $38,000. The campaign is now trending on GoFundMe.

I didn’t even know what that meant until I got an email,” she said. “We’ve had more 300 people donate in 16 hours. I shared the link on my Instagram and Twitter, and they are other BHS students sharing it on their Snapchat and stories. So many families are donating such large amounts. I have people texting and people I go to school with donating their own money, not their parents money. They are trying to help with this tragic loss.”

For those who would like to help, Arnholt said she’s become the unofficial coordinator donating items. She said the family needs everything – from money to grocery store gift cards to clothes. Arnholt said she will take any inquiries at her email:

Emily West covers Franklin, education, and the state legislature for the Franklin Home Page. Contact her at Follow her on Twitter via @emwest22.