ARP, Texas (KETK) – An East Texas community is rallying behind a beloved coach after he and his mother lost their home to a fire on Thanksgiving morning.

According to a statement from Arp ISD, Coach Winston Butler and his mother Dorene Freeney lost everything when their home burnt down and are now in the process of getting back on their feet, thanks in large part to former Arp ISD athletic director Dale Irwin and his wife Tonya Irwin.

The Arp community has stepped up by helping with donations of food, clothing, money and more.

“I just knew in my heart that they would step up to the plate, they always, always have,” Irwin said. “We’ve had several house fires in this area over the past two-three years and people have just really stepped to the plate to help these people out, so I knew in my heart it would be a tremendous response and it has been.”

Coach Irwin, along with Arp ISD and Arp State Bank, set up drop off locations at the bank and at Arp High School for anyone that wishes to help. Irwin will personally pick up the donations daily and deliver them to the family, the district announced.

“I’ve been around this community for a long time, they’re going to take care of me,” Butler told KETK News.

“As a school district, we ask that people please continue to show their generosity and for prayers for Winston and Ms. Freeney,” said Arp ISD Communications Coordinator Mike Alzamora.

Winston is a lifelong Arp Tiger who graduated as a special education student in 2009, according to the district.

“Thus far the support given to this family has been incredible! What an amazing family of Arp Tigers we have,” said Arp ISD superintendent Shannon Arrington.

Butler has helped the Arp football program since he was in the sixth grade doing manager duties. He played JV football from 9th-11th grade, and varsity football as a senior.

After graduating, Irwin offered Butler a job as an athletic department assistant and he’s been working at the district ever since. He ultimately became known as Coach Butler and has helped in any and every capacity needed by coaching staff, according to the district. He’s helped the football, boys and girls basketball, softball and track teams and has held the title of Assistant AD.

“I’ll just say this, without a shadow of a doubt, the world would be a lot better place with more Winston Butlers in it,” said Shannon Arrington, Arp ISD Superintendent.

For people that wish to make clothing/shoe donations, Butler is a size 13 shoe, wears a XXL top and 38×36 pants. Freeney is a size 14/16, wears an XL top & 8.5 shoe.

You can also Venmo or Paypal monetary donations to Coach Dale Irwin. He’s delivering the funds to Winston and his mother, according to the district.

Venmo: @dale-irwin
PayPal: @jdi33

Donations can be dropped off at the Arp Post Office, The Hub (gas station), Zipps, Arp Donuts, Golden Glitz, and American State Bank in Arp.


Stay up-to-date with the latest local news, sports, weather, politics and more using the KETK mobile app on Android and iPhone.