Los Angeles city leaders announced today a fundraising effort to rebuild a North Hollywood homeless shelter razed by a fire Saturday.
About two dozen people housed at the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission's emergency shelter were displaced by the blaze, which also destroyed a food pantry, clothing warehouse, a fleet of delivery trucks and mobile relief vans and office space.
About $250,000 worth of donated items that were to be sold at the Rescue Mission's thrift stores were also lost in the fire, according to Stacy Miller, the shelter's spokeswoman.
The shelter has already collected more than $100,000, which is a "great start," but $2.5 million is needed to rebuild the facilities, Miller said.
Donations of blankets, clothing, small household items and personal hygiene products for the displaced families are also being sought.
Council members Paul Krekorian, Bob Blumenfield, Tom LaBonge, Paul Koretz, Nury Martinez, Felipe Fuentes and Mitch Englander attended a news conference this morning to discuss the "Rescue the Mission" fundraising campaign and each donated $2,500.
Donations have also come in from businesses, including Walmart, which gave $10,000, and shopping mall operator Westfield, which contributed $15,000, said Miller.
Fire officials said donations can now be dropped off at any of the Los Angeles Fire Department's San Fernando Valley stations.
Donations can also be brought to the Rescue Mission's Sun Valley thrift store, at 9007 Lankershim Blvd., or the 12th council district's Community Service Center at 9207 Oakdale Ave.
Miller said they will be able to move 16 of the 21 people displaced into a model home built for them by KB Homes, but they need help in finding housing for the remaining families.
Krekorian said earlier this week that they are supporting the fundraising effort because the Rescue Mission "gives so much to our community by helping families in need get food, shelter and clothing across the Valley."
"Now, because of this terrible fire, the Mission needs our help," he said. "If we come together, we can overcome this tragedy."
Wade Trimmer, executive director of the Rescue Mission, said "the devastating fire that tore through the San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission was a tragic event that has impacted thousands of lives."
The "outpouring of support and commitment" from numerous individuals, including companies and city leaders, is the "silver lining of this disaster," he said.
The public can get more information about how to donate to the Rescue Mission by calling (818) 771-9839 or (888) 937-4448.
--City News Service