Stockton Pallet Fire Victims Looking For Ways To Pay Community’s Kindness Forward

STOCKTON (CBS13) – Almost three weeks after a pallet fire damaged five homes near downtown Stockton, families are still working to get their lives back to normal as they look for a permanent place to live.

A spaghetti dinner raised more than $14,000 for the families and since the fire; they have also received a large number of donations.

Families say the response from around the community has been overwhelming. Day after day, donations have been pouring in and one neighbor doesn’t want any of it going to waste.

Almost three weeks since a large fire destroyed and damaged five homes, neighbors are still thankful for everything the community has given to help them get back on their feet.

“Stockton, came out with their hearts and dropping off at my home, even though it’s burned, it’s still my home,” said Marsha Rigmaiden, who lost her home.

Rigmaiden not only lost her home but a vehicle. During the fire received carloads of donations – from bags of clothes and blankets to appliances and furniture. Now, she is hoping to bring comfort to those struggling on the street.

“I just want to have this go somewhere because they broke in four times and haven trying to steal stuff so, take it where they can use it, instead of just having someone rambling through it,” she said.

Rigmaiden called the Stockton Shelter, a place where the homeless of San Joaquin County can find hope. The organization provides meals and a home for thousands of men, women, and children every year.

“When they lose their clothes, or whatever, people donate clothes, or they use them or sell them in the thrift store and use the money to help the people,” said David Lehmkuhl from the Stockton Shelter.

The Stockton Shelter provides tools needed to allow the homeless to break out of the cycle of poverty and help them re-enter the community. Donations like Rigmaiden’s will go a long way.

“Some will go to people that are in the shelter, some might go to the store, just depends,” he said.

Rigmaiden says she hopes to make a difference with this small act of kindness, the same kindness she got from the community that made every day since the fire a little brighter.

“You got to help somebody, and they are going to help somebody, and they are going to help somebody. Just because I had a fire, that doesn’t stop me from being who I am,” said Rigmaiden.

Lawyers representing the families say they are just waiting for PG&E to disclose the nature of the gas leak they say contributed to the fire before moving forward with filing a claim against PG&E as well as the property owner and business owner.

Firefighters are still investigating the cause of the pallet fire.

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