Shepherd family gets Christmas surprise to help rebuild after house fire

David Milam and Cassie Milam (right) on behalf of Liberty County Bikes for Christmas present gift cards totaling $1,000 to Shianne Ott (center). The money will be used to help the Shepherd mom rebuild after fire destroyed the home she shared with her two children.

A Shepherd family who lost all their possessions in a house fire in November will soon be celebrating Christmas in a new home, in part to a $1,000 donation from Liberty County Bikes for Christmas.

Shianne Ott’s rented mobile home that she shared with her two children was reduced to ashes on Nov. 19. With no renter’s insurance, the family was unable to recoup their losses.

When David and Cassie Milam with Liberty County Bikes for Christmas read about the Ott family’s plight on Bluebonnet News, they offered the organization’s help. With the Liberty-based non-profit unable to hold its annual bike and toy giveaway due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was decided that the organization should help people on a case-by-case basis.

“A lot of the small businesses that support Liberty County Bikes for Christmas have had a hard year, so it’s tough to reach out and ask them for money this year. So we are just reaching out and helping a few families like this one,” Cassie Milam explained.

David Milam said that the organization is also going to contribute to other toy giveaways being organized by local fire and police departments.

For Ott, who works for the TDCJ Polunsky Unit in Livingston, the donation will go toward buying new clothing and a few Christmas presents for her children, and to help them get settled into a new home in the Livingston area. Ott is looking forward to buying a new pair of winter shoes as she has been wearing only her work boots and flip-flops since the fire.

“We bought our Christmas tree and put it up the night before our house burned down. Something like that can really crush your spirit,” Ott said. “It was just something I didn’t think would ever happen to us.”

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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