(Photo: Clarion University students Kylee Culver and Anthony Servette and part of the ABLE donation drive.)
Following last Thursday’s fire that left 12 families homeless at the Corcetti Rentals apartment complex on Second Avenue, residents throughout Clarion County were quick to respond with donations of food, clothing, money, and other necessities.
John Kerle, president of Charitable Deeds headquartered in Knox, is no stranger to helping people out. Charitable Deeds is serving as a central point for donations.
“We’re getting lots and lots of responses,” said Kerle Monday afternoon. “The response of the community is always great to Charitable Deeds no matter what the emergency. We’re in our 15th year now, and we’ve never turned one person away in 15 years. That’s thanks to the good people in our community, the 1050 members of Charitable Deeds and the lord.”
The response has also meant some busy days for Charitable Deeds and other organizations in responding to last week’s disaster.
“We’re out picking up two loads of furniture today (Monday),” said Kerle. “We’ve had $4,800.00 donated so far. We had three families over here today picking up furniture. I went down to where the fire was and saw Ron Corcetti, and he said he has six of the families relocated. Things must be going pretty good. I think there’s a church in Clarion collecting things for the fire victims and the university. We had the Lutheran church in Wentlings Corners and Lamartine send $600.00 to Charitable Deeds to give them. We’re just going to distribute it evenly among the 12 families.”
Kerle said two buildings in Knox house furniture, clothing, household items, furniture, appliances, and other necessities just in case. Charitable Deeds has a truck out on the road every week picking up donations, so it is prepared for future emergencies and people in need.
Students at Clarion University also joined the efforts Saturday and Sunday and quickly noticed how much people wanted to help. Donations were accepted at the Gemmell Student Complex.
“As soon as they would come in, we would tell them how appreciative we were, and they would reply they would do whatever then can do to help,” said Anthony Servette, a sophomore from Vowinckel. “We are collecting information for thank you letters, but they don’t even want to be thanked; they just want to be part of a community and unite and do great things together.”
Kylee Culver, a sophomore from Spartanburg, said the number of donations surprised them.
“Most people coming today (Saturday) said they were also coming back tomorrow to bring more stuff,” said Culver. “We have a lot of clothing. Pretty much everything you could think of, and that’s good because they lost everything.”
Both of the students are members of ABLE (Advisory Board for Leadership and Engagement). “We do service and leadership events around campus and philanthropic events for the community.”
Word of the fire spread throughout Clarion County and donations started pouring in. Churches and service clubs organized separate drives and acted as collection points for Charitable Deeds.
The New Bethlehem Moose Club was one of the drop-off locations for donations to Charitable Deeds.
“We’re receiving some of the donations for Charitable Deeds and serving as a drop off location,” said Ken Cramer, club administrator, Monday afternoon. “It’s going really well; we just had a pickup truck load of donations from over the weekend sent to Charitable Deeds. Club member Daniel Pesina had a big part in organizing it. It’s mainly what the Moose is all about – helping the needy people out, young and old.”
One club member also had a relative that lost their home in the fire.
Shortly after the fire had settled, Explore’s Daniel Pesina worked closely with Heather Crum, from Ron Corcetti Rentals.
Daniel explained that Heather was devastated that tenants – who she has come to know well over time – were now without homes and had lost everything. With quick action, Heather knew it was imperative to coordinate efforts of the many organizations that were looking to help the fire victims. Heather knew that aligning Charitable Deeds as a central point for donations would ensure the displaced tenants would receive the most help.
“It’s great to see the community support one another when tragic events such as this take place. It is amazing to see a small town in action when any of their residents are in need,” stated Heather.
Following the fire, displaced tenants were transported to the Clarion fire hall on Wood Street where the American Red Cross set up a temporary shelter. They were later placed in a nearby motel.
After that hotel was no longer able to house the tenants, exploreClarion.com and The Park Inn by Radisson teamed up to provide rooms for them at the hotel’s Clarion location.
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