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Donations Pour In Following Apartment Fire In South Toledo

Crews spent hours battling a blaze at the Andover Apartments, which began around 3:00 p.m. Officials have not determined a cause for the fire that displaced at least 70 individuals. MIRROR PHOTOS BY NANCY GAGNET
Phyllis Szymanzki helps sort clothes that were dropped off at the Holy Life Center at St. Patrick’s of Heatherdowns Church. Volunteers spent two days sorting items that were dropped off to help victims of the Andover Apartments fire that took place on May 18.

BY NANCY GAGNET | MIRROR REPORTER — The carloads of goods that were dropped off at St. Patrick’s of Heatherdowns Holy Family Center last week seemed to keep coming. The church served as an intake center for the American Red Cross following a May 18 apartment fire at the Andover Apartments located near the corner of Eastgate Drive and Heatherdowns Boulevard just behind the church. As rescue crews worked to put out a fire that started around 3:00 p.m. – destroying 36 units and displacing at least 70 people – the community stepped up to help those who lost everything. “We’re overwhelmed. It’s amazing, simply amazing,” said Barb Dixon, of the Society of St. Vincent DePaul and a member of St. Patrick’s parish. Dixon was called to help organize the intake event immediately after the fire broke out. Organizations and individuals from the surrounding area and several other churches, including Trinity Lutheran Church, CedarCreek Church and Maumee St. Joseph, donated items. Dozens of volunteers helped sort the goods, which included clothes, food, furniture, personal hygiene items and money. “We are the feet on the ground, but everyone in the community is helping,” Dixon said. The collection went through midnight on Thursday and most of the day on Friday. The American Red Cross picked up the items on Saturday. David Kissinger, who serves on Maumee City Council, also serves on the American Red Cross board of directors. He is a registered nurse trained in disaster relief and helped organize the relief effort at the Andover Apartments fire. “The community really supported the affected individuals in an amazing way,” he said. “There was a tremendous outpouring of love, care and concern for these individuals who are dealing with this very difficult situation.” According to Kissinger, 70 individuals registered with the American Red Cross, which means they will be assigned a caseworker to provide help and support while transitioning to new housing. All of those affected received emergency funds immediately after the fire and they will also receive gift cards and vouchers to shop at Goodwill. Although the fire took place in Toledo, it borders Maumee and falls within the Maumee school district. Twelve students attending Maumee schools lived in the apartments that burned. The students attended all of the buildings in the district, with the exception of Wayne Trail. Counselors at each building have reached out to the affected families to find out what they need and several teachers and students have donated items. The parent-teacher group from Fort Miami also donated $500 in gift cards to the two families from that school that were affected. At least 11 firefighters from Maumee also provided mutual aid to the Toledo department while they were fighting the fire – one vehicle stayed on-site while other firefighters filled in for the Toledo firemen who were at the scene. “I’m so thankful for the community rallying around these families,” Kissinger said. “It’s just amazing how Maumee worked to support Toledo and I’m really proud of how the communities came together.” Donations to the American Red Cross can be made online at www.redcross.org.

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