'What they don't have is a place to live': Thanksgiving fire claims family's home near Lebanon

Belleville News-DemocratDecember 2, 2013 

A Thanksgiving fire at the Clark home outside Lebanon left them with no possessions and no place to live, but a couple of friends are rallying to fix that.

Carrie Crist and Kathy Mancinas have set up a site on Facebook for donations and also established a donation account at Regions Bank, 210 E. Washington St., in Belleville.

Response has been good, Crist said.

"Mala (Clark) said they have enough clothes now," she said. "What they don't have is a place to live."

The family, Jim and Malla Clark and two children, ages 8 and 10, have been staying in a hotel but were scheduled to move into temporary housing this week.

Crist said she has known Mala Clark since they were teenagers and knew that she and Mancinas had to step up for them.

"They are very humble and never would have asked anybody for a thing," she said. "They would just have done what they could to get out of this hole. I said we have to do this for them."

Mala Clark said her husband was burned when he tried to put out the fire, which started around a newly installed wood stove. He's had to seek more treatment because the burns became infected.

She works as a caregiver for the elderly and Jim is in the construction business.

The family didn't have insurance on their home. Mala Clark said she knows that seems dumb but their insurance had recently expired during an argument over a pole barn on their property and they just didn't get around to finding new insurance.

She is ambivalent about accepting help.

"I don't want people to think we are just looking for handouts," she said.

The donation efforts are detailed at the Clark Family Home Foundation on Facebook. Crist and Mancinas plan to hold a fundraiser when they can locate a suitable venue.

Crist said a company has donated a trash receptacle and people have offered their time to help clean up the burned-out house.

"But we want to get as much money as we can to help rebuild the house," she said.

To find out more, you can text Crist at 618-477-0990 or go to the Facebook page.

Have a column idea? Call Wally at 618-239-2506 or 800-642-3878; or email: wspiers@bnd.com

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