Residents step up to help displaced fire victims

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WICHITA, Kansas — Earlier this week fire ravaged the Ashley Lane apartment complex leaving dozens with nothing and no place to call home. Now volunteers are digging deep and helping out.

The scene is heartwarming with clothing and donations of all kinds pouring in. This scene stands in stark contrast to when the fire happened at Ashley Lane, leaving so many with nothing.

Wendall Siebert drove half an hour to bring brought a couch.

“You know, I’ve been there, done that,” said Wendell. “I just hope to God there’s some people there to help them out.”

Carol Cousins brought clothes.

“It’s a disaster,” said Carol. “A catastrophe for whoever lost everything.”

They, along with others, are all digging in, lending their support at His Helping Hands in North Wichita. From a cup, to a kid’s toy, to electronics, to electronic curling sets. Residents are getting donations of all types.

Volunteer Eileen Wilson said they have some specific ideas for donations — specific things so people can call their place, wherever that is, home once again.

“We need dish sets, not just odds and ends. Because when we put a dish set together we’d like it to be as nice as what you would use.”

Eileen volunteers at His Helping Hands four days a week, saying it is part of her ministry. She has seen a lot of needy like those who lost everything in the fire. She also adds, the support and donations have been spectacular. Still, she says, it’s the little things that make all the difference.

And there have been many in need. Forty-eight apartments are gone, displacing more than 70 residents who are struggling to start over and just find a place.

But this is a good start.

“It’s really been an outpouring of support,” said volunteer Paul Dohms. “People have been coming in all day yesterday and today and we will be open, they can bring in stuff tomorrow.”

His Helping Hands and churches are teaming up and helping out.

The American Red Cross is closing its emergency shelter Friday but they will continue to help as well with case workers doing everything from finding new medical cards to finding a new apartment.

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