JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A fire a week before Christmas gutted Michael Bush's Jacksonville home and it was a gut punch to the plans he had for Christmas, including for his family of 12.
"I just let them know that everything is going to be alright. Everything happens for a reason. You just have to understand the reason why it's happening," he said.
Three weeks later, Bush is still working to find permanent housing. Having gone through what he could salvage, it wasn't how he thought he'd spend his holidays.
"It's a teachable moment for me everyday because of my children. My children teach me. I teach them," Bush told First Coast News.
The Jacksonville community stepped up in a big way, donating toys and clothes, even surpassing a fundraising goal set up by Bush's boss.
He returns to work later this week. "A lot of us don't understand we have two families. We have a working family and we have a family we come home too and I kind of miss my working family as well," he said with a smile.
Bush reached out to First Coast News, asking to share a message of thanks for those who went out of their way to make sure his children could have something to look forward to on Christmas morning.
"I definitely wanted to reach out to everyone that prayed, donated and even had time to have a conversation with me. I want to tell you all, thank you. My family appreciates you all. I definitely appreciate you all," Bush said.
He says he has not been told what caused the fire. No one was injured.