HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – A major push to get the Carolina Forest fire victims back on their feet is underway. All week long members throughout the community have donated items at the X Gym Sports Mall drop-off-site.
Nicole Couilliard, owner of Ron Jon's off of Hwy 501, is spearheading the collection effort. Over the last few days she has teamed up the United Way, Goodwill, Salvation Army, and Impact Ministries to make this happen.
"This is amazing to me. I never thought it would become this big, but I'm so glad that the community has come together for these families," said Couilliard.
Saturday at 6 p.m. they will stop taking donations at the Sports Mall, and shift gears.
Over the next week, Couilliard and a team of volunteers will prepare for a yard sale happening next Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, the X Gym will stay open to victims
Couilliard hopes more victims come out to the Sports Mall to take whatever they might need and it will not cost them a thing.
"We have so much stuff here that's available to the Carolina Forest Fire victims. It's free and there's no limits. They can take as much stuff as they want," explained Couilliard.
She says there are thousands of things that will not be picked up and hopes the yard sale will help them raise money for the Carolina Forest Fire families.
"So, we're going to have a community yard sale Friday and Saturday. It's March 29 and 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. That way all the money that is raised will go directly to the victims."
Couilliard plans to keep the site open over the next few months on a much smaller scale. This means it will still be open for victims and they will have also a temporary thrift store. Money made there will go to the families who lost everything.
People affected by the fire are touched, yet overwhelmed, over the generosity of the community.
"It is hard to even know where to start, you just don't know what you'll need. Little things like a brush, or even a pillow," says Mellissa Branche, who lost everything in the fire last weekend.
Branche says it is important to set your pride aside and get the help you need.
"You might think you don't need the help, but you do. Don't try to be strong, let people help you," expresses Branche.
Volunteers at the complex will also help you find a place to live.
"I can't even come and load up and take what I need to start over because I have no place to put it," says Valerie Guy. She lost everything, including her car, in the fire.
The X Sports Mall will hold things for in storage for those, like Guy, who are still looking for a place to call home.