Assistance When It's Needed Most

Dec 30, 2020 | by Doug Donahoo

All it took was one evening for dozens of Kansas City families to have their holiday season turned upside down and their homes gone. What started as a quiet night at home for residents of the Waldo Heights Apartment became anything but.

“We were in in the house and my boyfriend about the play a game and then we saw a lot of black smoke coming out of our electric socket, and that's when we do something was wrong,” NaSheena Hooker said.

Hooker and her boyfriend quickly grabbed warm clothing and headed out into the chilly evening air on Monday, still not fully aware of the severity of the fire that would quickly consume the three-story building near 81st and Troost.

Eldon Campbell was walking back home when he saw the smoke pouring from the top of the building and knew he had to act quickly.

“I ran in and grabbed my dog and got out,” Campbell said on Wednesday morning.

Just 36 hours after their apartment building was declared off-limits and the site a major investigation, Campbell and Hooker were two of almost a dozen households that made their way to The Salvation Army’s Westport corps in midtown Kansas City to start the emergency assistance process.

The Salvation Army had already launched an online application form for residents to fill out to get them help to replace the necessities like clothing and toiletries either destroyed in the fire or that they could not access.

Hooker said, “It was super easy. I did it today I didn't know they got it like right then and there.”

Taking digital applications for The Salvation Army became a priority during the COVID-19 pandemic which has limited the organization’s ability to spend long amounts of time with clients face-to-face.

“It was nice to have it online and available for the public to use. I was able to get the information last night and send out appointment times via email,” said Tracie Smith, Divisional Pathway of Hope manager.

A faster response time means families were able to access the Walmart gift cards to start replacing their items as they wait for the next step in the process of finding a new place to live. Gift cards made possible thanks to donations from the community.

“It just shows how much our community can come together. Even through the pandemic, there are people who are still willing to donate,” Hooker said.

If you would like to support families impact by the Waldo Heights fire, please click here.

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