DOWAGIAC, Mich. - A small community in Cass County is making sure a family that lost everything has something to celebrate this Christmas.
A weekend fire destroyed a home near Indian Lake early Saturday morning and left a family of six homeless. The father, who is unemployed, tried to fix the furnace in the basement of the home to save money and nearby flammable materials caught fire.
“They were struggling before the fire,” said Chief Bryan Huggins of the Indian Lake Fire Department. “Now they’re really going to be struggling.”
Huggins said the fire spread fast. The family was able to escape before the floor collapsed in and burned everything in the house. “They pretty much lost everything except the clothes on their back,” he said.
Tragedy doesn’t happen often on Indian Lake. Huggins said the volunteer department knew something should be done. “We realized the four kids, ages four through eight, aren’t going to have a Christmas,” he said.
Within hours, the department started a Christmas collection. Clothes, food and Christmas gifts came in for the family from all across the small community.
“What a rotten time for this to happen,” Fred Frese, one of the many donors. Frese owns Frese Discount, the only store in town. He donated clothes for everyone in the family Monday morning. “We figured it’d be the right thing to do. So that’s what we did,” he said.
Already a load was dropped off with the family but more donations are coming in. “We’ve been contacted by a lot of people in the community,” said Huggins. “We just want to set a good example for the community to make sure these kids have a good Christmas and have something to believe in for a while.”
The children ages and genders:
Donations are being excepted at the Indian Lake Fire Department. 33104 Old M-62 west.
For more information contact Chief Bryan Huggins at 269-414-2257.