The Park Ridge Fire Department put out the last embers Wednesday morning from a huge fire that sent five people to the hospital and left a building of 36 condo units uninhabitable.
By Friday morning, Park Ridge volunteers had gathered, sorted and displayed thousands of new and gently used clothing items, shoes, toiletries and more and flung open the doors to the Park Ridge Community Church to let fire-displaced residents select anything they desired.
“The Park Ridge police social worker, Geri Silic, reached out to see if we’d be willing to host (the clothing drive),” said Rev. Carol Hill, pastor of Park Ridge Community Church. “I put it out on social media, and within an hour, the first person arrived with a bag of items to donate.”
More than 100 people lived in the condo building, she said, including older and younger residents and a mother with a four-year-old. The fire started just before 11 p.m. May 24 and went into the early hours of May 25.
“We heard people who lived in the building were banging on doors to alert their neighbors that the building was on fire,” Hill said.
Hill and about six volunteers were staffing three rooms in the church that were filled with donated items, including men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, shoes, toiletries, handbags and other goods.
Hill said the city of Park Ridge is providing Walmart gift cards to residents so they can pick out some necessities for themselves.
Monetary donations continue to be accepted. Checks can be made payable to Park Ridge Community Church with “Fire Relief Fund” in the memo, or donate through Zelle at email@example.com or to the American Red Cross at redcross.org/donate.