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Auburn churches extend helping hand for victims of 49 Fire

By: Julie Eng, Journal Correspondent
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This past week, many Auburn residents lost everything in the 49 Fire. Fortunately, local churches are working to help them get it all back. Several churches are collecting food and clothing, though many take these donations to the Salvation Army and Red Cross and advise those looking to help drop off contributions directly with either group. However, many places of worship have specific plans for helping fire victims. At Bayside Auburn Church, Cheryl Brown, associate minister of impact ministries, had a long list of ways to help on Thursday. “We have been involved from the get-go,” she said. “Our pastor offered the church as a place for evacuees to stay, and then we organized our church community to have a meeting.” At the meeting, the congregation came together to decide where they could do the most good. One of the church’s small groups organized a “donation tree,” keeping a master list of items donated to the church. Brown says that the county’s assistance center will be giving the church’s name to those seeking donations, and the small group will match up the need with the “donation tree.” Brown also said they will be sponsoring a benefit concert organized by the group Speak With Love on Sept. 26. The group is still looking for a venue to accommodate the large crowd they anticipate, Brown said. All proceeds of the event will go to the Red Cross and Salvation Army. That evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the church’s Nevada Street location, they will host Hopequest, a time of prayer for the community and fire victims. “It’s kind of a holistic day,” Brown said. “You can hear music, donate money, your time as a volunteer, or clothes, and then you can come in the evening for prayer.” The church’s long-range plans for helping fire victims include helping with clean up. she said. Volunteers from the congregation are on standby as the county assesses the need for help. In addition, a church member trained to teach others to be emergency responders plans to set up a workshop in the coming month. Brown says this way in the event something like this happens again they’ll have a group on site to provide aid right away. The Foothill Center for Spiritual Living also stepped up immediately. Church representative Lea Jacobs said that when the North Auburn Alcoholics Anonymous meeting was closed due to proximity to the fire, the church hosted the meeting. They continue to collect donations, and have asked all of their congregants to bring in clothing and non-perishable food items. The center has also adopted a family who lost everything in the fire. Jacobs says they are collecting funds and gift cards for the family, and those wishing to donate can drop off checks made out to ‘The Calderon Family Fire Fund’ at the church offices. Parkside Church of the Nazarene is reaching out to those in need as well. On Wednesday and Thursday of this past week volunteers distributed care packages containing nonperishable food and toiletries to fire victims. The church continues to accept donations, including non-perishable food items and necessities like tooth brushes and plastic utensils. In addition to collecting donations, several groups are looking to get their hands dirty. Auburn Seventh-day Adventist plans to assist in cleaning up ashes, and Bell Road Baptist is working with Southern Baptist Disaster Relief to help haul away fire debris. ---------- How to help • Bayside Auburn Church: drop off donations for the ‘donation tree,’ or buy tickets for the benefit concert on the 26th • Foothill Center for Spiritual Living: drop off clothing and non-perishables, and checks made out to the ‘The Calderon Family Fire Fund,” at the church offices. • Parkside Church of the Nazarene: donate non-perishable food and toiletries. • Bell Road Baptist: Train to volunteer to help clean up fire debris. They will offer training for two weeks starting on the 21st. Contact the church for more information. • Auburn Seventh-Day Adventist: donate food and clothing on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. • Bethlehem Lutheran Church: attend the “service for healing” tonight at 6:30. Prayers will be specific to healing the community, and all are welcome. • St. Teresa of Avila: donate money to fire victims fund, at church offices or at mass. • Pioneer United Methodist: bring children’s clothes to the church offices for students at Rock Creek Elementary School who were victims of the fire.