MILTON, Wash. – Donations have been flooding into the Milton City Hall in the wake of a fire at the Alder Ridge Senior Apartments that displaced 138 seniors on Tuesday night. Community members are trying to collect everything the families need, from basic necessities to furniture and food.
“Shaving cream, razors, toothpaste and toothbrushes,” April Balsley, takes an inventory of all the items donated in the past 24 hours.
“There’s everything here, denture cream, brushes soap, shampoo conditioner,” everything she said a senior that lost everything would need.
When word of the Alder Ridge Senior Apartments fire spread Tuesday night, Milton residents left their Christmas gatherings and came to City Hall.
“Winter jackets, socks, shoes, bedding, blankets, walkers,” counted Balsley. No one, she said, came empty handed.
“Just watching the outpouring of love from our community is just unbelievable. This is from our community. All of this,” said Mary Tompkins, tearing up.
For a town of 8,000 people, this is overwhelming, said the councilwoman. “Donations came from off their own beds, out of their closets. Anything they could find,” she said.
“I don’t think Christmas had anything to do with it, it’s just how this community is.”
One of those making donations was Sheila Smith. “We heard the fire alarm go off, and then you saw the smoke coming up from the roof and then all of a sudden you saw the flames and it just kept growing and growing and getting bigger and bigger,” she said.
When she saw residents, she said her heart broke. “Some of them went out there in their pajamas, and robes and slippers. That’s all they had.”
“For a local family to lose everything in a fire, you take a hit, but for a senior to lose everything in a fire, it is absolutely devastating,” said Balsley. “Something as simple as photos, their memories are gone now. Family heirlooms.”
These women know they can’t replace the heirlooms or the photos, but they can give to these residents like they are family. A gift that they know is priceless.
“There’s either tokens of treasure or tokens of time, and fortunately here in Milton we have it all,” said Balsley.
Of the 136 residents displaced, about 40 still need permanent housing. Volunteers are now seeking donations of furniture, sturdy chairs, twin sized bed frames and new mattresses.
Monetary donations can also be made at any local Columbia Bank branch. The account is called “Alder Ridge Donations” and will go toward helping the seniors affected.