Assistance available for families in need
A Holton resident’s request for assistance with a local family whose house was destroyed in a recent fire prompted the Holton City Commission to note a number of ways that families who have fallen on hard times — particularly during the Christmas season — can receive assistance.
During Monday’s commission meeting, Harold Kennedy told commissioners about the Nov. 23 house fire that severely damaged the residence of Bill Simmons and his family, as well as efforts to help the family recover from the fire. Kennedy said the family has been given a temporary rental in a house in Denison that he and his wife own, and the Red Cross has agreed to cover $300 of the first month’s rent in that house.
Kennedy noted that the Simmons family has received donations of furniture and clothing to replace what was lost in the fire, and people who work with the family have set up a small fund to help them. He also inquired into whether the city could set up “a destitutes’ fund” for Holton residents who fall victim to house fires and similar tragedies.
Concerning the establishment of funds for such families, Commissioner Tim Morris said the city is not authorized to collect or hold donations for them. Instead, Morris said, local banks are willing to set up funds for donations to people in such situations as the Simmons family.
City Clerk Teresa Riley also noted the presence of the Anna M. Chevis Estate Trust, established to help families who have been victims of catastrophic fires.
The city is authorized to allot fire victims $250 from the Chevis trust, Riley said, adding that since the Simmons family moved out of the city, that amount went toward paying off the family’s last utility bill.
The city also continues to manage the Sitzler Fund, established by the estate of Holton resident Louise Sitzler in 1912 to provide financial help to those less fortunate during the Christmas season. Those who will receive utility assistance are nominated by members of the city commission, it was reported.
Holton Mayor Robert Dieckmann also encouraged Kennedy to let the family know about the “Garage No Sale,” sponsored by Christ’s Church and scheduled for Saturday at the Jackson County Fair Building. The premise of the event, it was noted, was that items could be donated to families in need for the holiday season.
Dieckmann also noted the willingness of Holton residents to help out their fellow citizens with financial and other donations in times of need.
“What I’ve found is that in this town, people will give if they know about it,” he said.
One such example involves the Andrew and Breann Hinman family, whose rural Holton home was destroyed in a Nov. 22 fire that prompted family members and friends to come to their aid. An online donation drive for the Hinmans has so far netted more than $3,200 for the family, it was reported.
But for people who may not be as well known in the city, such as the Simmons family, Kennedy said any help the city and its residents can give them is more than welcome.
“They lost everything,” Kennedy said of the family.