Military Families, organizations help fire victims recover
Carolyn Bahnert, Lisa Lawrence, Kyla Sage, Angela Woodall, Monica Antwine-Tri and Jackie Grip sort through the donated clothing for the Families affected by the Dogue Creek Village fire.

The relief effort for the Dogue Creek Village fire victims continued on Monday as Dogue Creek Village residents packed clothes, toys and other items at the Boy Scout hut connected to the thrift store.

The resident's main goal is to get the Families affected by the fire back on track as soon as possible.

"We are coming together as a community to replace the items that the Families lost," said Lorelei Taylor, Dogue Creek Village resident. "We want to make it as easy as possible for them to get back on track with their household goods and give them as much support as they want or need."

Relief efforts began immediately last week as residents established the Dogue Creek House Fire Relief page on Facebook and used the page to send out contact information for anyone who wanted to make a donation.

How quickly the relief effort began is a testament to the caring spirit of a military community, according to Carolyn Bohnert, Dogue Creek Village resident.

"I think everybody regardless of whether or not the donation came from a child who said 'this is my favorite rock I want this child to have it,'" Bohnert said. "That says enough right there. That no matter what it is whether it's clothes or a new or old item."

The staff at the Villages at Belvoir Pinnacle Housing Management has been doing its part to help the affected Families get back on track. All six of their neighborhood centers as well as the welcome center have been accepting new toys, new unused clothing in specific sizes, gift cards and unexpired non-perishable food items.

"We want to put out that we are extremely thankful for the tremendous outpouring that we have received from residents and organizations reaching out to us and the Families," said Resident Relations Manager, Janelle Carutis, Pinnacle Family of Companies, The Villages at Belvoir. "We spoke with the Families and determined who was accepting donations and what they were accepting."

Mairim Soto-Basil, Dogue Creek Village resident, said she is not surprised how quickly the community came together to help the fire victims.

"Everywhere I've been military wise, there was always much more of a community sense than in the civilian world," said Soto-Basil. "They all have the one thing in common which is they are away from their Families. I find that in the military you do have more of a community sense and togetherness."

Making sure the affected Families received as normal of a Christmas as possible is also very important to Soto-Basil, Bohnert, Taylor and former Dogue Creek Village resident, Kyla Sage.

"It hit home for a lot of people," said Sage, George Washington Village resident. "We've had people donate brand new presents, and the three main Families affected are going to have Christmas dinner provided."

Organizations outside of Fort Belvoir have also stepped up to help. Joint Base Andrews, Md., has provided furniture for the Families. While Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7327 in Springfield, Va., helped out by awarding a grant to the Family whose home was the primary source of the fire.

"I initiated a disaster relief grant through VFW's unmet needs program," said Gary Kelch, Post 7327 Commander. "I received word (Monday) that the Family living in the primary source of the fire has been approved for a grant through that program."

The relief efforts are already making a difference as the children of the affected Families are already benefiting from the donations.

"All the children were over at my house (Sunday) having fun again," Bohnert said. "They enjoyed the crafts that were donated."

So many donations have been received by the Families that a rummage sale will take place on Dec. 17-18 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Boy Scout Hut.

All proceeds will benefit the two Families directly affected by the fire.

Page last updated Thu December 15th, 2011 at 14:45