More than a week after the Thanksgiving fire that destroyed three homes and damaged others on West Fourth Street, members of the Sedalia community continue to help the affected families.
During the Thanksgiving fire incident, bottled water, Gatorade and sandwiches were served to firefighters and police officers at the scene, thanks to firefighter wives, neighbors, the Sedalia American Legion and Mayor Steve Galliher. Earlier this week the Democrat reported how State Fair Community College is assisting one of its students who lost everything in the fire. More citizens are continuing that giving streak.
“Our slogan is ‘Repurposing people for Christ,’ that’s our mission is to help these people re-establish,” said Pastor Scott Trowbridge, of The Gathering Church in Sedalia. “It’s not about being in our four walls; we’re about community. Over Thanksgiving we served all of our first responders — we didn’t even get to the fire department until late that evening, of course, to serve those guys, but things like this is what our church is based on, trying to help reach in the community.
“This is one of the first times, we’ve been going since 2013, that we’ve really been able to do that. … That’s our goal and mission is to get these people established and hopefully create a new community of people, so when something like this happens people stand up and help other citizens.”
Members of The Gathering Church, along with Olive Branch Church members, have been planning a benefit event for the fire victims to be hosted Jan. 9 at a venue still to be determined. Trowbridge said they are working on contacting all the families, as the organizers would like for them to attend.
The event will include a chili cook-off, live and silent auctions, live entertainment and vendor booths. Trowbridge they are looking for help in a variety of ways.
“We’re looking for people to donate items to the auctions as well as be participants in the chili cook-off,” he said. “We’re also looking for volunteers that want to help with setting it up, getting it out of there.
“… Some of the smaller businesses like pizza places and Subway are giving us plenty of little things to auction but we need some big items. Any corporate sponsorship would be awesome, if anyone would like to step up and help out that would be awesome as well.”
Trowbridge said so far they have five vendors but are seeking more. The cost is $25 a table, and he said any donated proceeds back to the fundraiser “would be greatly appreciated as well.”
He said the event’s proceeds will be used to help the affected families pay bills and “get re-established,” rather than hand over a large check.
“Anything over the top of (what we raise for the families), we’re going to try to put into a fund in case something like this happens again, we could immediately help people right away. The meaning of this benefit is two-fold,” Trowbridge said.
To volunteer, donate or for more information regarding the Jan. 9 benefit, contact JoAnna at 660-287-0652.
A mother-daughter duo has also been doing their part to help. Carla Jones and her daughter, Heaven Aker, both of Sedalia, have been collecting items such as clothing and bedding for the families during the past week. Jones, who volunteers with Hiz Closet in Smithton, said she went to the scene Thanksgiving day and made contact with as many victims as possible. Then her daughter said she wanted to help too, and put out an ad asking for donations.
Jones said she decided to help because of her affiliation with Hiz Closet, which helps provide clothing for those in need, but for a personal reason as well.
“I’ve been with Hiz Closet for two years, but the apartment building, when I was 19 I lived in that building,” she said. “My daughter called me and told me, ‘the apartment you lived in, it is burnt down,’ so I went down there as a Hiz Closet representative to get names and numbers and my daughter said she would help me by getting donations from the community.”
Jones said they got a good response, and she worked with the Red Cross to get contact information for the victims. As she gets donations, she contacts the individuals to let them know what she has. She said Hiz Closet is also helping with toys for Christmas for two of the children.
“One (of the women) in the building, she gave me the biggest hug she possibly could (when we gave her the donations),” Jones said. “I thought she was going to cry.”
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1482 or @NicoleRCooke.