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Donations being sold to raise money for Three Oaks fire victims

GALIEN, Mich. -- Nearly a month after a fire in Three Oaks left over a dozen families homeless, the community is hosting a yard sale this weekend to raise money by selling leftover donations that poured in for the victims.

“You saw it, but you didn’t really believe it,” said Judi Koltay, who lost her home in the fire. “I don’t know. Unless it happens, you don’t know what it’s like. You really don’t.”

“You lose 30 years worth of your life, and it’s stuff you can’t never [sic] get back,” said Levoda Kieth, who also lost her home.

In the early morning hours of August 19, the Hidden Harbor Villas apartment complex in Three Oaks caught on fire.

Today, the shell of the building still stands.

But down the road in nearby Galien, a sign of hope sits amongst a lot of stuff.

“Over the past month since it happened, we have gotten donations,” said Angie Stewart, who organized this weekend’s sale after her friend Kelly asked for more storage space after initially collecting things in her laundromat. “The fire victims have got to come through three, four times – got to take what they needed. And at the end, we had to draw a line and say this was enough. And so, now we are here today selling for the weekend.”

All the money raised is going to the victims of the fire.

Stewart said donations have come from South Bend, Elkhart, La Porte, and even Chicago.

And people like Sharon Phillips still brought more in Friday afternoon.

“I think it’s just a phenomenal effort that they’ve done all this work for all the victims,” Phillips said. “And then I look at all that’s been donated—it’s just amazing.”

There’s furniture, kitchenware, and enough clothes and shoes to fill a department store, all up for safe at a property on 104 George Street in Galien.

“It’s just coming out and helping people who have lost everything,” Stewart said. “And maybe we didn’t get things that they needed, so that this money is going to go to help maybe get them a new bed or a new mattress or sheets. Something that they may want that they didn’t get.”

Kieth and her cat made it out alive from the fire.

And so did Koltay, less than two years after she moved in from Chicago.

“I’m used to a big city,” Koltay said. “And I just wouldn’t think that so many people would be helpful and just do all this. I mean, it’s just amazing.”

“Three Oaks is such a small community and everybody knows everybody,” Kieth said. “But you don’t expect them to come through like that.”

The yard sale will continue on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Any donations that are not sold will be donated to other people in need in the area.

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