Churches and community unite to serve fire evacuees

CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- At Clovis Hills Community church off International and Willow, fire evacuees took time to get much-needed supplies and connect with each other.

"I mean every time I see somebody they lost their house and we just cry together. You know it is heartbreaking because I don't even know if my place is still standing," said Jeri Rutledge of Auberry.

While the Red Cross provides shelter and resources, local churches are stepping up to provide items immediately to the 45,000 evacuees.
Cross City has been collecting gift cards to victims and handing them out at Granite Ridge Intermediate School.

"Honestly people have been overwhelmed that we would step in and help out and would give them a gift card to a restaurant or something. I've had grandparents break down. I've had parents say now I can get some shoes for my kid and I seen the kids in bare feet standing right in front of me," said Nick D'Acquisto, Cross City Fresno.

More than $15,000 in gift cards is being handed out. We saw one large donation that will make a big impact. Gift card donations are being accepted at Granite Ridge, Cross City or Clovis Hills Community Church.

There are also clothing bins set up at Granite Ridge for new or gently used clothing donations.

Many fire evacuees say it's a surreal time, but they're thankful for each donation.

"The house is still standing and we're hoping for the best. If it goes down it goes down we can't help it. That's what mother nature wants to do," said Patricia Swick of North Fork

Staying positive and having faith is helping people in their time of need. Local churches have come together to be boots on the ground.

"We're supposed to be the church, that's the beauty of that. We're out doing that right now. We're partnering with Cross city, the Well, Vi, New Hope and all kinds of big and small churches to just really serve the community and give them a cup of water, give them some relief and love," said Shawn Beaty, Clovis Hills Community Church senior pastor.

The greatest need is dry foods, gift cards, diapers and children's items like toys or activities.

The donation site at Clovis Hills is open Monday through Friday 9 am to 5 pm. The church says they could change that in the future, but they'll continue to serve if there's a need.
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