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Eastern Iowa Donations Help Hiawatha Fire Victims

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HIAWATHA, Iowa -- A black pile of rubble is all that's left of Kris Owens's mobile home. A fire early Wednesday morning tore through the uninsured structure at Tower Terrace Mobile Home Park, burning up all she and her nephew had.

"Everything, my car, everything. My dog, my cat," said Owens.

Owens is not alone. The same fire spread to three other mobile homes destroying them as well, displacing four adults and five kids in all.

The loss inspired Hiawatha resident, and family friend to one of the victims, Keara Wenzel to step up. Wednesday evening she started a donation drive to benefit the nine who had been displaced, asking Eastern Iowans to give clothes, coats, toys and toiletries.

They delivered big time. In three days, donors filled a Hiawatha church's large coat room.

"We've gotten a great turnout, especially with adult clothing. We don't need any more of that," said Wenzel with a smile.

People like Kathy Hopkins drove about an hour from Marengo with her two sons, bringing a truck load of items to the church, Saturday morning.

"I saw on the news a whole bunch of people needed clothes and toys and stuff. I talked to my mom about it and we gathered a whole bunch of stuff," said Kathy's young son, Ben Bardell.

Those who didn't bring boxes or bags donated money or gave gift cards. It all totaled up to about $1,500, on top of the countless number of clothes and other items collected.

"I am amazed at the generosity of others. I have already been brought to tears a couple of times," said Wenzel.

When Owens first got a look at it all, she couldn't believe her eyes. She'll have enough to fill the new home Tower Terrace donated to her, just down the road from her old property.

"[I'm] shocked that there are so many people willing to help me. I think, 'What did I do to deserve all this wonderful kindness?'" said Owens

If you want to help, Wenzel is still taking monetary donations. Head to this website:

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