Volunteers who created the Ascension Fire House, a residence used by families after a fire destroys their home, are coming together March 9 to collect supplies to keep the house stocked.
The volunteer group was part of the Ascension Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Ascension program, which requires members to complete a community service project each year.
In 2011, two Leadership Ascension groups joined forces to raise the money needed to convert a two-bedroom house owned by Ascension Parish government into temporary housing for fire victims in Ascension.
Volunteer firefighters and board members with Ascension Fire Protection District 1 manage the house and solicit businesses for money to purchase the personal care items needed for families staying in the house, said James LeBlanc, district board president.
LeBlanc, who is also the St. Amant Volunteer Fire Department chief, said that since the house was opened in June 2011, 13 families have stayed at the home.
Families picking up the pieces after a fire can stay in the house for up to five days, he said.
The Leadership Class not only raised the money but worked on renovations to the house, which had been used as office space by parish government.
The house was turned over to parish government in 2011.
Cheryl Rice, a member of the leadership class, said the group recently reunited to help with upkeep on the house and collect donations to be used to assist families affected by fire tragedies.
After two meetings, phone calls and emails, Rice said, the group set a March 9 collection drive date at the Gonzales Wal-Mart.
Shoppers will be asked to donate toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo, cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, towels, sheets, laundry detergent, pillows, blankets and nonperishable food items.
LeBlanc said the success of the house has drawn interest from officials in two surrounding parishes who have questioned him about the project.
“We are very fortunate to have such a special project for the residents of our parish,” LeBlanc said.
However, it takes continued funding to keep the house stocked with the items needed for families after they have lost everything in a fire, he said.
In many cases, volunteer firefighters are using their own money to purchase supplies for the house, he said.
Anyone wishing to donate to the Ascension Fire House can stop by Wal-Mart from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Rice said.