By Heather Janssen

EL DORADO COUNTY (CBS13) – After days of devastation, local communities are doing what they can to help fire victims across the region.

Michael Semer, owner of Mikey’s Kilted Kitchen spent the afternoon cleaning his food truck ahead of another night of feeding fire victims evacuated in Placerville.

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“You could see by the looks on their faces – they’re just exhausted,” he said of the people he’s been serving. He’s not turning a profit, just dishing out kindness during the tough times. He plans to keep going at least until the weekend.

“This community has helped me get my food truck, so the least I can do is feed them with it,” he said.

That same sentiment is felt by Brittany Sampson, owner of the Break Room in Shingle Springs. She felt the reopening rollercoaster in the pandemic and now wants to pay it forward to those that kept her afloat.

“Once we got on the other side of that – the biggest help is just being there for everybody else,” Sampson said. “Those are the ones who were there for us.”

Their party room in the restaurant has been temporarily converted into a supply closet filled with nearly everything a person could need – from snacks to sanitizer to diapers and things for kids to do. Community members continued to drop by with more donations as Caldor Fire evacuees came and went. The restaurant plans to keep the room open for victims through Friday but will drive around delivering supplies to those staying in parking lots for the time being.

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These types of gestures mean a lot to many people, including Rhonda Hildabrandt. Despite the trying few days, she’s felt incredibly loved by those around her.

“The compassion of a total stranger just warms my heart,” she said, in tears. “It just means so much.”

Hildabrandt is only one of many who has felt the evacuation struggles over the last few weeks. Hairdresser Heidi Neuharth said that was her reality just weeks ago as a River Fire evacuee.

“I had to leave work, head up the hill and get all my stuff,” Neuharth said. It’s what inspired her and a few other salons to get together for a cut-a-thon on Saturday for other River Fire victims. Proceeds from the haircuts will go towards helping those impacted.

Each community across the region shows they’re doing what they do best.

“These are our friends and our family. We know and have grown up with a lot of these people,” said Semer.

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A story of neighbors helping neighbors during some of life’s darkest days.

Heather Janssen