After battling a Dec. 31 blaze that destroyed a duplex on E. Main Street in Emmaus that left two families homeless, the members of the Emmaus Fire Department decided they want to do something further to help the victims of the fire - Katherine and Gerald Maury and Jarred Goeppert and his 11-year-old daughter, Jada.
In particular, the firefighters have focused their efforts on Jada, who was hospitalized for smoke inhalation, breathing with the help of a ventilator through Wednesday. Jada was injured in an effort to save her Great Dane. The dog died in the fire.
The Emmaus firefighters have taken up a collection to buy Jada a new dog when she is ready, according to Lt. Bob Schwoyer of the Emmaus Fire Department.
Plus, the firefighters have organized a donation drive to benefit Jada and her dad, as well as the Maurys. Community members can drop off items for the families on Saturday, Jan. 5 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fire station, 100 North Sixth Street.
Schwoyer has taken a lead role in promoting the drive, which was initially planned to solicit clothing donations. According to Schwoyer, the response from the community has been incredible and the firefighters have already collected a great deal of clothing for both families.
As a result, he says, the fire department is now working with the Red Cross to ensure that donations received beyond what the Emmaus families can use will be distributed to other needy families in the area.
In addition to toys for Jada -- who lost all of her Christmas presents in the blaze -- the firefighters are asking for toiletries and small household items. Plus, they hope people who want to help will consider donating gift cards for local restaurants or grocery stores.
Beyond that, he says, both families could use donations of pet supplies or gift cards for pet stores. (The Maurys also have a dog.) The firefighters are also trying to find a local veterinarian willing to donate services to the families as they get back on their feet.
Jada was still hospitalized at the time of this writing, although Schwoyer said it is possible that she could be released from the hospital late Thursday. If not, the expectation is that she will be sent home Friday, he said.