Gulfport church urges community to help fire victims

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - After an intense house fire last month, the only thing the victims were able to save, was their lives. It's been a struggle, but now starting over has gotten a little easier for Shoranda Towner and her family.

St. James Baptist Church in Gulfport has reached out to the Towners and now the congregation is asking people throughout South Mississippi to do the same.

These days Sharonda Towner looks to her church family for strength and the congregation is proud to offer it. Earlier in Sunday's service the pastor urged church members to make a sacrifice to help others in need.

"I have a lot of support from the church, the Pastors, the Deacons, and the church members. They've helped me a whole lot so I'm rebuilding slowly, but surely," Towner said.

Her rebuilding efforts are slow because she's starting from scratch. Faulty wiring is to blame for the quickly spread fire that left the Towner family homeless.

"We smelled something burning and the whole room was completely on fire. We lost everything we had and the only thing we came out of the house in, is what was on our backs," Towner explained.

Towner was down on her luck for quite some time, but that all changed when Social Worker, James Smith, invited her to St. James Baptist church.

"Getting her here I knew I could provide food, could work on that clothing issue, and we could network to try to find them a place to live. And to get those other kinds of things that are necessary to maintain a household," Smith said.

With the Ministry's food pantry, and donations from members they were able to provide some basic necessities, but Smith said there's still a need.

"I think it's incumbent that we are our brother's keeper. Whether you have a religious background or not. We have to reach out to one another. It's the Towner's turn now, but it could be either of us tomorrow," Smith said.

An account has been set up at Hancock Bank under the name-Sharonda Towner. If you'd like to help this family you can make a donation at any of the bank's branches in South Mississippi.

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