DSM couple collecting donations for neighbor who lost a loved one in house fire

DSM couple collecting donations for neighbor who lost a loved one in house fire
Published: Mar. 26, 2023 at 9:55 AM CDT
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DES MOINES, Iowa (KCCI) -A Des Moines couple who helped a woman during and after her home caught on fire this week is now going a step further, KCCI’s Kayla James reported.

Chance Slinger and Kennedy McDonald have created a fundraiser for their neighbor in her late 70s named Joan, after a fire took the life of her son who was also her caretaker. The fire happened in the 5500 block of SW 3rd Place around 1 a.m. on Thursday.

“She’s a very sweet old lady. She’s always stayed in this house,” Slinger said.

McDonald and Slinger have lived next door to Joan and her son for three years. From the very first day, when Joan introduced herself to them with a smile, the couple knew she was a kind and loving person. They even think of her as family.

“Every time I came home from work, she’d wave at her door,” Slinger said. “We’ve had dinner over at her house. We’ve made grocery runs to the store for her. She had her son, Todd, living with her. That was her primary caretaker.”

McDonald was home when the fire broke out. She says she heard the sirens and when she walked out of the house, she saw smoke rolling out of Joan’s home and saw Joan on the porch.

“She tends to need assistance with walking and things like that so I had run over and just helped her down the stairs and get to the ambulance so she could get checked out,” said McDonald. “Unfortunately, her son was still in the house.”

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, according to Des Moines Fire Department Capt. Chris Clement. He said the home did not have working smoke detectors.

Slinger said Joan is temporarily living with family nearby.

“She lost all of her clothes. She lost all of her medicines,” said Slinger, who says he and McDonald have seen and spoken with Joan since the fire. “She’s also going to have to bury her son.”

While Joan is staying with family, McDonald and Slinger are doing what they can to help her out. It’s why they started the fundraiser and now — Slinger is opening up the doors of his auto shop, Elite Auto Sales, to collect necessities. Elite Auto Sales is found at 4101 SE 14th St.

“People can even just donate clothes or some non-perishables,” McDonald said.

“She doesn’t have a lot of resources to begin with,” Slinger said. “But one thing I can give her is my time. I can try to give them as many resources as I can pull together.”