The Rev. Sandra Kimbrow is amazed at the community support for July 7 fire victims she’s witnessed since the First United Methodist Church became a depot for donations.

She said the church on July 8 gathered American Red Red Cross food and household goods at the the Pendleton convention center for the 60 tenants displaced by the July 7 South Hill Apartment fire. The Red Cross used the convention center as a shelter when a brush fire ravaged two buildings at 248 S.W. 28th Drive. All the displaced tenants found housing within six days.

The church, at 352 SE Second St., then collected everything from Wal-Mart gift cards, food, and clothes, to children’s toys and furniture until Wednesday. Kimbrow said the church is no longer taking item donations, but will accept monetary contributions for the victims. It’s already raised $6,500 between a sale Saturday for excess clothing and household good donations, and collections at the church, convention center and businesses including Abby’s Pizza, Dean’s Market & Deli and Dave’s Chevron Food Mart.

About 12 volunteers assisted Kimbrow organizing the goods, and about 10 families visited the church for food and clothing in first few days after the blaze.

“I had probably 10 or 12 tables stacked three feet high with clothing at one point,” she said. “We spent a lot of time sorting through clothes and making sure that if people came in they could find what they needed.”

Kimbrow said so many community organizations have pitched in she couldn’t name them all. When the church ran out of room for furniture, Harris Junior Academy offered storage space.

It worked very well, we served a lot of people,” said Donna Styer, Harris Junior Academy volunteer. She said other community members have separately offered support. Motel 6 donated beds left over from a remodel. “[Motel 6 offered the beds] because we’re doing a remodel and we think it would be a nice thing to do,” said Bernie Brower, assistant manager. “Just kind of a community service sort of thing.”

She said two people have called asking for beds, but most have already found what they needed. But the relief effort went beyond city limits. Kimbrow said goods also came from Milton-Freewater, Helix, Meacham and Hermiston.

“A lot of organizations collected and brought things here for us to distribute,” he said. “I mean it was from everywhere. The donations were just coming in quicker than we could push them.”

Kimbrow said fire victims should call her at 541-377-1022 for aid.

“I’m just kind of trying to figure out what those people need,” she said. “I need to hear from the residents, what is it that we need?”

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Contact Chris Rizer at crizer@eastoregonian.com or 541-966-0836.

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