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RACINE — After fires displaced two of its families, staff at Julian Thomas Elementary School is collecting cash, gift cards and new clothing for the six children affected by the blazes.

Staff began reaching out to the entire school community after they learned that five of the six children displaced by the fires — a Feb. 3 fire at 805 Jackson St. and a Monday morning blaze at a duplex at 1112-1114 N. Memorial Drive — are students at Julian Thomas, 930 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive.

“It has kind of exploded now,” school secretary Michelle Hinrichs said Wednesday. “A couple of people have dropped off bags of clothes. SC Johnson Elementary School, they collected a couple of boxes of things. And, staff is collecting cash and gift cards.”

“One of the students (displaced by the fires) came to school with this gigantic, oversized coat today, and we were able to get her a brand new coat and a hat and gloves,” Hinrichs added. “We have all these cute hats and gloves. We’re so lucky.”

Since both families lost everything in the fires, the school is still seeking new clothes, cash and/or gift cards to stores such as Wal-Mart, Aldi’s and Save-A-Lot.

The family displaced by the fire on North Memorial Drive has four children, ages 6, 7, 10 and 17. The family is seeking boys 14/16 clothes, boys 7/8 clothes, girls 7/8 clothes, 32-inch waistline adult men’s pants, and medium men’s shirts.

School social worker Cheryl Holewinski said Wednesday that as far she was aware, neither of the families have found permanent or semipermanent housing of their own, but she believes at least one the families is staying with relatives.

Holewinski urged people who want to help the families to donate new clothing or gift cards, rather than used clothing.

Because the families lost everything, being able to shop for food, toiletries and clothing will help add a level of normalcy during a very uncertain time for the children and their families, Holewinski said.

“It will reduce the feelings of devastation,” she said.

All clothing, cash and gift card donations can be dropped off at the Julian Thomas school office.

Anyone with questions or wanting to see what the families still need are encouraged to call the school at 262-664-8400.


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