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Downtown Vegas Alliance sorts donations for Alpine fire victims

Updated December 28, 2019 - 4:14 pm

The Downtown Vegas Alliance sorted through hundreds of donations Saturday and had raised more than $13,000 to help those displaced by last weekend’s fatal fire at the Alpine Motel Apartments.

About 20 volunteers filtered through clothes, toiletries, linens, coats and blankets in a third-floor conference room at the Mob Museum. The drive began Tuesday and ended Friday night.

“We are working through the Red Cross to get the items and funds directly to the victims,” Lisa Robinson with Faiss Foley Warren Public Relations — a spokeswoman for the donation drive — wrote in a Saturday email to the Review-Journal.

Donated items, as well as gift cards, will be distributed to fire victims early next week, said Carolyn Wheeler, executive director of the nonprofit Downtown Vegas Alliance.

Six people were killed and 13 were injured — five critically, including a pregnant woman — in the fire Dec. 21 in downtown Las Vegas, the deadliest residential fire in the city’s history.

In addition to collecting items, the Alliance had raised $13,491 through an online GoFundMe page as of Saturday afternoon. The account was slated to close at midnight, and money raised will be converted to gift cards for fire victims.

So far, 133 donors have contributed to the online fundraiser. The Downtown Vegas Alliance set a $25,000 goal.

The fire victims escaped from their apartments with just the clothes they were wearing, Wheeler said, so “we just wanted to get them over the hump for the next couple of days.”

The city of Las Vegas and American Red Cross are assisting with housing for those displaced, Wheeler said, and are working to meet victims’ long-term needs. The Red Cross has helped 62 people affected by the fire, it said Friday on Twitter.

On Saturday at the Mob Museum, cardboard boxes full of hairbrushes, socks and pet supplies were spread out on a table. Clothes were on hangers on racks, and blankets were stacked up against a wall. A pile of items — including an empty “Frozen” pinata — that couldn’t be distributed to fire victims were donated to the Las Vegas Rescue Mission.

Some businesses also made donations; the Downtown Grand has gave bed linens, and Lyft has provided rides to fire victims, Wheeler said.

The majority of volunteers were members of the Alliance, Wheeler said, but some area residents also helped.

Volunteer Paul Robertson said he found out at Christmas dinner that his father’s friend had been displaced.

He said he brought together friends to help out Saturday and made breakfast for them at his house beforehand. The volunteers arrived at 10 a.m. and spent a few hours working.

It was reassuring how people came together to donate items, Robertson said, no matter their background.

“It was a beautiful experience to see it,” he said.

Contact Julie Wootton-Greener at jgreener@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2921. Follow @julieswootton on Twitter.

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