Baltimore's Hampden community rallies around fire survivors

Churches and community organizations in Hampden have begun to raise money and collect goods for survivors of Tuesday’s fire, which city officials said displaced 16 people from eight rowhomes.

No sooner had the fire on Roland Avenue been knocked out than area stores and community organizations began to collect donations and to raise money for those affected, said the Rev. Bonnie McCubbin, pastor of Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, which served as the Red Cross headquarters Tuesday and a temporary shelter for displaced residents.

“I managed to find everyone temporary housing that came through our doors,” she said.

Elisa H. Ghinger, executive director of the Hampden Family Center, said she’s already begun receiving financial donations on behalf of the victims.

The center and Good Shepherd Church have joined forces with other groups, including St. Luke’s Church on the Avenue, the Hampden Village Merchants Association, the Hampden Community Council and St. Mary’s Outreach Center.

“This community has a great history of pulling together,” Ghinger said.

Area stores including MOM’s Organic Market and Giant have provided donations such as toiletries. A few individuals, said Ghinger, have coordinated efforts to obtain replacements for medication lost in the fire as well as vouchers for a local consignment shop.

“We’re trying to harness the enthusiasm of the community,” said McCubbin. “But also make sure that the things that we do and the things that we collect are actually needed.”

Tania Baker, a spokeswoman with the city’s Department of Housing, said 16 people were displaced from the eight houses, which are now condemned.

“What people really need right now is housing,” said Ghinger.

McCubbin said they’re still struggling with one basic need: contact information for all the survivors. “If anyone is a victim of the fire, we would love to hear from them,” she said.

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