OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — As the smoke clears, the relief efforts begin.
Neighbors are helping neighbors after Monday’s huge fire, one of the metro’s biggest ever, which damaged or destroyed 25 local homes. The blaze also ruined a building at the new City Place Apartments project, which was still under construction at the time of the fire. Now, the community around Overland Park is extending its arms, trying to help people displaced by the blaze.
As the embers from that fire blew onto local homes, they caused residual fires, causing various levels of damage to neighboring structures. Those sparks spread heartache, but a number of local benefactors want to help.
There are still good people in the world. Overland Park’s Lauren Friedman is proof. When flames tore through City Place, Friedman, a server at the 810 Zone restaurant, went into action. She’s one of a number of local people collecting donations meant for the victims of that massive blaze.
“I really have faith in this city. I grew up here. I’ve been here all my life, and I know Kansas City gets really passionate about things they care about,” Friedman said on Tuesday.
810 Zone is working with its radio partners from 810 WHB and Union Broadcasting to connect displaced people with hotel rooms and other donated goods.
Pastor Jeffrey Kunze has been on the front lines too. He’s the pastor at Christ Lutheran Church, a 33-year-old church that’s sitting at the epicenter of the fire. That church stayed open all night, providing donated meals and emotional comfort to anyone in need.
“There’s gift cards — that’s what the Red Cross is saying too. If we get a gift card, we can give that to the families, so they can get the items they need,” Pastor Kunze said.
Often times, Pastor Kunze said victims of the fire want answers, since they’re trying to carry on with their lives.
“As they’re trying to process the loss of their property, what’s next with insurance, and investigations and what the ATF has to do, and the fire marshal,” Pastor Kunze said.
Price Chopper is also helping people in need. On Monday, the grocery store chain sent 24 cases of bottled water and 144 boxed lunches to first responders and families affected by the fire. Price Chopper has 51 locations in the metro, and donations are being collected at the point-of-sale at each store through April 1st.
Jessica Bjorgaard, a Price Chopper spokesperson, said every dollar collected goes to the American Red Cross. The grocer began collecting donations to benefit those affected by the tornadoes that blew through the metro two weeks ago, but now, Bjorgaard said, a new need demands more giving.