Keepers of the Fire

A blaze was tossed around by 40 mph winds Monday and burned down nine structures at Wade’s Mobile Manor, leaving seven families without adequate housing, food or other resources.

The Laramie community sprang into action. United Way of Albany County, Interfaith-Good Samaritan and other charitable organizations from across the county were inundated with donations and offers of assistance. United Way set a goal of raising $20,000-$30,000 between the organizations and continued working toward that goal throughout the week as donations rolled in.

But a large segment of Laramie’s population — University of Wyoming students — can find it difficult to make monetary donations.

That didn’t stop Vanessa Sorrels — club president of the Keepers of the Fire student organization — from mobilizing her group to help those in need, even as many grind their way through midterms this week.

“We are trying to collect food and toiletries for the displaced families,” Sorrels said. “Interfaith said they were looking for monetary donations, but we are not in position to necessarily do that. So, I figured that food and toiletries are always helpful.”

Members of Keepers of the Fire — UW’s Native American student group — felt compelled to help out, Sorrels said.

“I cannot imagine how all of those families feel, so I just figured we can try to collect some stuff for them,” she said. “I think it’s just normal for our community in general. When people need help, others try to do what they can to help.”

The group placed a donation box outside of the classroom in the Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center, and will take the donations it receives to Interfaith today. The Keepers will continue to accept donations through next week, Sorrels said.

Vercauteren said the community’s outpouring of support was impressive, and that the charities were well on their way to meeting their goal — though the need is never fully met.

“(Today), the United Way and Red Cross and Interfaith and other agencies involved are going to be setting up a room here at the (Laramie Plains) Civic Center,” he said. “We’re trying to get the victims of the fire to come.”

At the civic center, 710 Garfield St., Vercauteren and others will work to connect victims with resources to help them get through this tough time, and get back on their feet.

“All of the services that are going to be available, all of the services people are offering, all of the money we have — we’re going to just say, ‘Here it is, here’s what we have for you,’” he said. “Every dime’s going to go to the people.”

The Native American center is located at 200 S. 10th St. on the UW campus.

Interfaith is accepting donations at or 710 Garfield St.

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