Rising from the ashes: Arson victims have new homes, necessities after help from community

Nearing the two-week mark since an arson fire destroyed their apartments, victims from the blaze have found themselves with a new roof over their heads just in time for the harshest parts of winter to hit Harlan County.

Leslie Bledsoe, founder of With Love from Harlan, said there were five households displaced by the fire, which included three single women, one young couple and a single mother with a young son.

In conjunction with The Harlan Enterprise, $5,405 was raised through a Facebook fundraiser titled “Lend a helping hand to our neighbors in Harlan,” to which more than 100 people donated money to help the families impacted by the fire.

Other donations included $425 from another Facebook fundraiser and donated checks, which was divided up into $200 for both the couple and single mother, $100 for each single woman and $100 specifically for the child to spend. A total of $1,250 in checks were donated and $25 in cash.

A grand total of $7,655 in monetary donations and 10 $25 Walmart gift cards were donated (two gift cards for each household), all of which have been distributed.

“This is what happens when God shows up. Within a week of the fire, we have been able to pay first-month’s rent and deposit for all four of the women. They all have new beds and 95 percent of their needs have been met,” Bledsoe said. “The couple is living in a family home, but we were able to help them with furniture. The single mother found an apartment today (Sunday), and will be able to move in Tuesday or Wednesday. She is so excited.”

As of noon Sunday:

• $3,150 has been spent on rent and deposits.

• $2,470.94 has been spent on beds and furniture.

• $1,700 in gift cards purchased for hygiene items, shower, curtains, sheets and immediate needs.

• $800 cash distributed to the families as stated above (per wishes of donors).

“They were overwhelmed with love, and we thank God for meeting their every need,” she said. “We appreciate everyone who has helped bring clothes and/or household items. Our community is truly like no other.”

Volunteers also came together Friday evening at the Harlan County Courthouse to help unload and pack donations to the victims’ new apartments.

To continue following the donations and how the community has helped those displaced by the fire, find With Love from Harlan on Facebook.

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