Multiple families were displaced after a fire rolled through Fontenelle Hills Apartments in the afternoon on March 20.
The apartments were not equipped with a sprinkler system, as the building was built in the 1970’s before one was required.
Diane Bruce, Sally Conrad and Kelly Niemier came together to rally support from the Bellevue community.
Bruce said Niemier approached her because of Bruce’s past experience fundraising for the previous Fontenelle Hills Apartments fire in 2018.
Bruce once owned B & B Classic Dogs in Bellevue and ran the 2018 fundraiser out of the restaurant. She said she was not sure she was going to head the fundraiser this time because of her commitment to her current job but eventually decided to help out as part of a team effort.
Within three minutes of posting to Bellevue 411 Facebook page about the fundraiser/donation drive, Sally Conrad, co-owner of Solutions Heating and Air Conditioning, volunteered her business as a drop-off site for donations.
“At that point, I knew the community was pulling together again, and that this wasn’t going to be all on my shoulders to do again,” Bruce said.
The group started to collect donations March 24.
“We’ve got tables being delivered to put some stuff on and the families are finally in there,” Bruce said.
So far, four families have reached out for assistance and the apartment complex is also informing families on who to contact for help.
Bruce said when things get delivered, volunteers will sort items by families’ needs.
“So if something is brought in specifically for a family or it fits this person only, then we’re going to just separate families, we’re going to have a pile for each family,” Bruce said.
There will be certain items available that will be just for anybody as they walk through.
The support from the community is nothing new to Bruce.
“I used to have the restaurant and in 2018 I went through my own personal tragedy and it was heartwarming to have their community reach out to me and be there for me,” Bruce said.
She said some of the families have been hesitant to ask for too much.
“If you don’t ask, you won’t get and we just tell them, in the future when you’re in a better place than pay it back, pay it forward to somebody,” Bruce said. “I think down the road, they’ll remember that the community did this for them and they’ll be part of another event later helping other families.”
Bellevue First, the group behind the Bellevue 411 Facebook page, is collecting any monetary donations.
Bellevue First has set up a fund at Great Western Bank and is accepting donations to help the families affected by the fire at the Bellevue apartment complex.
The donations received will be divided equally between the families that ask for assistance.
The community can help by donating through one of several ways:
1. Via Venmo to user Bellevue-First.
2. Via Paypal to BellevueFirst1@gmail.com.
3. Directly at either Bellevue branch of Great Western Bank.
4. By mail. Email BellevueFirst1@gmail.com for details.
Bellevue First is covering all associated online, banking and transaction fees so 100% of donations will go to the affected families.
Items can be dropped off at Solutions Heating & Air at 706 Fort Crook Road and times for drop offs will be updated on the Bellevue 411 Facebook page.
The community is being asked not to drop off furniture but instead comment on the Bellevue 411 post what they have. If one of the families are interested, Bellevue First can the donators in contact with them to arrange a pick up.
Furniture will be turned away at the door.
Below is a list of the families who have contacted Bellevue First so far and their clothing needs. They will all need kitchen supplies, household items, animal supplies, cleaning supplies, toiletries, etc.
This list will be updated online as more families contact Bellevue First for assistance.
FAMILY No. 1
Mens — Pants: 44x34, shirts: XXXL to XXXXL.
Womens — Pants: size 3 to 4, shirts size small, shoes size 7-ish.
2-month old daughter — newborn to 1 to 3 months, size 1 diapers and other infant necessities.
Two cats and a dog.
FAMILY No. 2
Womens — shirts large, pants 12 reg/short, shoes 10.
3-month old puppy.
FAMILY No. 3
2 girls — sizes 2T to 4T, size 7 shoes.
Mens — shirts size large, pants size medium to large.
Womens — shirts size medium, pants size medium.