By Wayne Gates –
A family of five had their lives turned upside down on December 9 when their home burned to the ground near Russellville, but a community effort is helping them get back on their feet.
“People heard about what happened and started a grassroots donation effort to help out the family,” said Russellville Police Chief Matt Wertz.
Jennifer Wagner, Elmer Hess and three boys ages 13, 10 and 8 are now starting to rebuild their lives, thanks to the generosity of people from all over.
“We’ve had people offer anything from a house or apartment rent-free for a few months until they can get back on their feet to clothing to household items,” said Wertz.
“I still have people coming up to me and giving me cash donations and saying ‘I know it’s not much but I want to help.’ It’s been pretty awesome to see.”
The doors of the Russellville Fire Department were open the next morning to serve as a donation collection point. As the weekend progressed, the amount of donations just kept growing.
“It made me feel really great to know that our community can see that there is somebody out there that needs help. What really hit me was that somebody who saw a Facebook post that lives in Texas contacted us and asked how they could help. This is someone that they would probably never meet in their lifetime, but they want to help out,” Wertz said.
The Brown County Peace Officer’s Association is also stepping up.
One of Wagner’s sons had already been chosen for the Shop With a Cop program and was set to spend $500 for gifts for his family. Thanks to an additional $500 donation from the BCPOA, that has grown to $1000.
For those who still want to help, an account has been opened at Fifth Third Bank for monetary donations in the name of the Jennifer Wagner fund.
Those who wish to donate household items can call Aimee Garrett at (513) 315-7542.