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Big hearts, big check


Community, St. Paul's congregation support Imlay firefighters' smoke detector program


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Imlay City Firefighters gather with fire trucks and safety information to share at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on Sunday to show their appreciation for the church's generous donation of $3,338 to the department's new smoke detector program.

April 10, 2019
IMLAY CITY — In the aftermath of February's tragic fire in the Maple Grove mobile home park that claimed the lives of four children, the community continues to find ways to help and heal.

And so do the members of the Imlay City Fire Department, all of whom are forever changed by the events of that harrowing night. Determined to help make sure no other family has to deal with such devastation, the Imlay City Firemen's Association initiated a program aimed at collecting funds to make sure every residence in the city is equipped with life-saving smoke detectors.

The community, as always, jumped right on board. So far, the new program has raised more than $10,000 toward the cause—with some $3,338 of that coming from the congregation, council and associated programs at St. Paul's Lutheran Church.

The church has long been known and recognized for its community outreach 'Food for Families' program where twice weekly families and residents in need can enjoy a free, home-cooked meal and pick up items from the program's food pantry.

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St. Paul's has again shown its ability to make good things happen in the community—this time they did it in just four days. Between the church council, the Faith Garden Preschool and Daycare and Sunday School programs, and the congregation itself, they raised $3,338 to donate to the smoke alarm program.

"I am truly amazed at how much money we were able to put together in about four days time," says church member and fundraiser Michelle Gnagey.

When she learned about the program from her brother—Assistant Fire Chief Matt Makedonsky—Gnagey says she knew St. Paul's would want to help.

She approached the church council, who immediately donated $500; the preschool and daycare program came through with $1,000; another $500 was handed over by the Sunday School program, and the rest—some $1,338—consisted of free will donations from members of the congregation.

"We are so blessed to have such a generous church community," Gnagey says.

Obviously feeling the same way, the firefighters demonstrated their gratitude by coming out to St. Paul's on Sunday. They brought along two fire trucks and fire safety information for the Sunday School children. Youngsters donned fire hats, toured the trucks and interacted with the firefighters during their visit.

The department was also formally presented with the $3,338 donation.

Imlay City Fire Chief Rick Horton marveled at the generosity shown by St. Paul's congregation members.

"For a single church to collect more than $3,000 for this cause is just amazing to me," said Horton. "It was so nice to hear that $500 of these funds came from the church's Sunday School kids.

"It shows just how supportive the whole community has been in response to this tragedy."

Horton noted that members of the department plan to gather at Maple Grove Estates on Saturday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to begin visiting each mobile home to install smoke detectors or batteries for those in need.

Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.
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