NY 1 - December 31, 2017by Shannan Ferry
Shaquan Hoke says that, as someone who was once homeless, it pains her to see the survivors of Thursday's deadly Bronx fire lose everything.
So, on Saturday, she was among the dozens of people who dropped off bags full of donations to help the victims.
"Because we are all living in the same neighborhood, to me that's like family, and when you see a family member hurting and in need, you do whatever it is to help them," Hoke said.
The weekend-drive was organized by the mayor's office in partnership with the Bronx borough president, the NYPD, the FDNY, and other city agencies.
Coats, shoes, toys, toiletries and other items poured in to St. Martin of Tours, a church located less than a mile from the fire that left 12 people dead and several others wounded.
"It is our job to reach out to the community and take care of the community, and that's what these agencies do," NYPD Captain Kenneth Gorme said.
"For the church, it is just part of our faith that all of us, in ups and downs, work together," said Pastor Cosme Fernandez of St. Martin of Tours.
Officials said a three-year old boy was playing with a stove when flames broke out on the first floor and quickly spread up to the fifth floor. The building suffered extensive fire, water, and smoke damage. The Red Cross estimates about 22 families lived there.
"For them to be out in these elements without anything, I could not just stand by and do nothing," said Lashawn Bullock, who donated to the victims.
Some also donated their time by volunteering to sort through hundreds of bags.
"We often get lost in her own world and stuff like that," volunteer Odalis Gutierrez said. "I felt like it was a need as a person, as a human being, to help out."
Officials hope the event will also spread awareness about fire safety, as visitors could also pick up information sheets and free smoke detector batteries.