When an early morning fire on Dec. 30 ripped through the Guillory family’s house west of Lawrence, it also destroyed all of the belongings of the family of 11.
Thankfully Roger and Camay Guillory and their children escaped the blaze safely at their house, 1772 North 200 Road. Fire officials said it burned after a space heater ignited some bedding. The Guillory family did not have insurance.
The two weeks since then have been a struggle as family members try to get their lives back to some sense of normalcy.
They’ve relied on the kindness of friends and strangers for everything from lodging to food to other basics.
“It’s just been countless organizations offering to help out,” said Roger Guillory, 36, who works as a relief operator ICL Performance Products in North Lawrence.
As the family continues to look for permanent housing, several Douglas County organizations are teaming up to collect household items beginning today.
United Way of Douglas County AmeriCorps members are seeking to collect these items:
• Bed frames and mattresses, bedding, pillows, blankets and towels.
• Small and large appliances, vacuum cleaner, toaster, television, radio, CD player.
• Dishes, silverware, glasses, pots, pans and utensils.
• Trash cans, a rake, a shovel, small tools, a broom, cleaning supplies and products.
• Toys like puzzles, board games and books for children ages 2 to 13.
• Non-perishable food items.
“If this happened to us, we would love for the community to come together and help us as well,” AmeriCorps member Kendra Noll said.
The project coincides with the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. No clothing will be accepted.
Drop-off bins for daytime, weekday donations from today through Jan. 20 will be at:
• Douglas County Community Health Building’s first floor lobby, 200 Maine.
• Penn House, 1035 Pa.
• United Way Center for Humane Services, 2518 Ridge Court.
• Van Go Inc., 715 N.J., where Van Go apprentice artists will collect non-perishable food items.
AmeriCorps members will also be outside both Lawrence Walmart stores from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 16, on Martin Luther King Day, to accept donations, and they will pick up larger items, like furniture, Monday afternoon. Anyone who needs to arrange for an item to be picked up can call the United Way Roger Hill Volunteer Center at 785-865-5030 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Douglas County Chapter of the American Red Cross provided hotel rooms for the family for several days after the fire, and then they became part of the Family Promise of Lawrence, a coalition that includes religious organizations and provides meals and housing opportunities. Guillory said the family is temporarily staying in a place through Family Promise.
Jane Blocher, the Red Cross chapter’s executive director, said the Guillory family has remained positive during challenging times.
“We try to take just what we need because there are other families out there that need more than we do,” Guillory said. “We’re grateful for all of the support.”