February 13 was the coldest night of the year in Mt. Clemens. Despite the freezing temperatures, a fire blazed through the Holiday Garden Apartments in town. It was so bad that many residents were forced to escape by jumping out of their windows. The complex was completely gutted but, by the grace of God, no one lost their life. Months later, boarded up windows, burnt shingles, and uprooted trees are left. All residents were displaced, and everything was lost. It is a difficult time for the families, who aren’t blessed with the means to replace all their clothing and valuables.
Ron Kuczera, the Local Missions Coordinator for Shepherd’s Gate, Shelby Twp., saw the story on the news and felt compelled to act. The tragedy hit close to home for Kuczera: “There was a fire in my house when I was in my early 20s and, when I saw the story, it really took me back to where I was,” he said. He talked with the Good Shepherd Coalition to find out how the church could help.
Kuczera and Shepherd’s Gate decided to put together a program called Outfit your Neighbors. Shepherd’s Gate Church is currently holding a clothing drive to help the victims through the summer months. They are purchasing shorts, shirts, and summer clothes for all 22 residents.
The generosity from the members is abounding. It’s not just a t-shirt or pair of jeans that is coming in, but entire wardrobes are being replaced. Drop-offs will continue until June 6 at Shepherd’s Gate and then everything goes to the Macomb County Fire Department, where they will be given to the residents at a special ceremony on June 11.
Having seen all those possessions gone in one night, Kuczera empathizes with the neighbors and wants them to know that people care. “It is tough, I feel for them, and I know it is just stuff, but we want to replace that stuff and we want them to feel loved and supported by the community.”
Featured image (c) Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash. Photos of apartment complex by Jeff Heisner/Michigan District, LCMS. Photo of gifts (clothing) courtesy of Lisa Jensen/Shepherd’s Gate Church.