Community helps residents displaced by fire

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Impromptu donations began pouring in as soon as the news spread of an apartment fire that displaced an Odyssey Hospice employee last week.

Megan Anderson, executive director of Odyssey Hospice, said the amount of support shown for Charlotte Henderson from colleagues and community members alike has been “very touching.”

“You don’t hear the good anymore after a catastrophe or something less unfortunate happens to someone,” Anderson said Friday morning. “What the community has done to help not only Charlotte, but some of the other families affected, has been phenomenal.”

Henderson, a patient care secretary, was just one of nine people forced out of their homes on March 12 after a fire fully engulfed the fourplex apartment building where she had been living with her 12-year-old daughter.

Denton Fire Department Battalion Chief Chuck Goodman said calls started coming into dispatch from traveling passersby at about 9:17 a.m., and the first unit arrived in the 900 block of Kilkenny Court at 9:25 a.m. They began immediately attacking with Quint 5 — an elevated aerial truck — to extinguish the flames.

Anderson said an estimated $3,700 has been donated in the form of cash, checks and gift cards. Of that amount, she said $2,000 was from the John T. Ennis Foundation, a nonprofit organization set up and funded through employees of Gentiva — the company that owns Odyssey.

“With the foundation, you pay a small amount each pay period and it’s something you don’t even think about,” Anderson said. “But seeing it given back makes you prouder to wear your badge every day.”

A gofundme.com website, under “Family Displaced by Fire,” was set up by social worker Kelly Seiler and is still accepting donations with a goal of $5,000.

Anderson said the website has spurred individuals to offer couches, coffee makers and other supplies. What Henderson doesn’t need is being donated to her other neighbors who were affected by last week’s devastating fire.

“Sometimes, it’s something as simple as her little girl not having a hair brush,” Anderson said. “It’s the small things that count, that you really don’t think about.”

The damage to the second story of the apartment building has left fire investigators to declare the cause of the fire “undetermined.” Officials said the loss value was estimated at $260,000 for the property and $75,000 for contents.

Anderson said Henderson, who has been employed with the company for roughly a year, just received keys to a new apartment Wednesday and is getting ready to start back to work next week.

During the fire, Henderson was appreciative that someone helped get her dog and a cat out, but one of her cats was still missing late into the day.

She did finally find her missing cat, Anderson said.

“The cat was severely singed and had crawled inside a wall, but it’s now doing fine and she has both her cats and dog now,” Anderson said.

All donations can be dropped off at Odyssey Hospice, 525 N. Locust St., Denton, TX 76201. Large items are not being accepted at this time, but any clothing, bedding and other items can stay at the office until Henderson is ready for them.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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