Donations pour in for Martha fire victims

MARTHA, Ok (KSWO) - Days after a fire ravaged the small town of Martha, cleanup continues, along with efforts to help victims recover. Donations have been pouring in and just last night, the Navajo FFA Chapter raised about $18,000 that will be divided between the fire victims and crews on scene to help.

The Martha Road Baptist Church has been at the center of recovery efforts for Martha after Saturday's fire that destroyed 15 structures. Everything from food and clothes to toiletries and bedding were donated and have already been distributed.

"We've identified four families that lost everything," said Senior Pastor, Kevin Baker. "We're working with six additional families that lived on the outskirts of the fire that had extensive smoke damage in their homes.  A couple of those are so bad they can't live there. We've supplied them with cleaning supplies and gift cards to help them make those repairs and clean so they can move back into their homes."

Even students from the Navajo FFA Chapter stepped up and raised about $18,000 for the cause during Tuesday night's labor auction. That's where student basically sell eight hours of their time to anyone looking for some help. As for the idea, we're told it was a group effort.

"We had an officer meeting before school started a few days ago," said Navajo FFA Vice President Braelyn Lingle. "We talked about canceling it, but decided instead to donate all the money we make so it can benefit someone else."

Normally, that money the chapter raises would help fund their trip to the National FFA Convention. But after seeing the need in Martha, they didn't mind making a change.

"I love being able to give back and help people," Lingle said. "It makes me feel like we're actually making a difference in someone's life."

Baker says the Martha Road Baptist Church has never worked a disaster like this before, so it's been overwhelming. But to see people are getting what they need during such a crucial time makes it all worth while.

"It's allowed us as a church to demonstrate the true love of Jesus Christ," Baker said. "That's our basic mission, is to connect our community to the gospel through Jesus Christ."

In addition to what's been collected and raised through the church and FFA chapter, the Sunrise Cafe in Altus is holding a fundraising event Friday afternoon. Starting at 3:30 p.m., the cafe will serve fried catfish, hush puppies, corn, fried okra, pinto beans and a drink for just $10. Those proceeds will go straight to the fire victims.

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