The Carpentersville Fire Department, a local church and a charity have united to support a family of five who lost everything they own in a New Year's Eve house fire.
The Herrera family had been vacationing in Mexico at the time of the blaze and returned home Thursday to find their house destroyed, Deputy Fire Chief John Skillman said.
The Catholic society, which supports the needy and the suffering, is collecting checks to help the family get back on their feet until their insurance money kicks in. Donors can either drop off the checks or mail them to the church.
"(The Herreras) basically come home with nothing," said Bill Wenzloff, a church member who is also president of the St. Vincent De Paul Conference in Carpentersville. "Not everyone enters with new year with the happiness that's associated with this time of year."
The church can accept limited clothing donations for the Herrera children -- a 9-year-old girl and 6- and 3-year-old boys -- but you should coordinate that with the society before you drop anything off. To that end, Wenzloff urges you to call the society's hotline at (847) 428-5467. He added that the family did not wish to be identified by their full names.
The fire department helped get the ball rolling on the project by asking fellow firefighter Arturo Carrillo, who has publicized several fundraisers for the department, for people at the church who could help. Carrillo, also a member of St. Monica's parish, responded by forwarding Wenzloff's name to the department. Firefighter Tony Ferreiro was also involved in coordinating help for the Herreras.
Firefighters spent several hours battling the blaze on the 100 block of North Washington Street that started at around 9 p.m. on Dec. 31 and ended at about 3 a.m. New Year's Day. Initial units arriving reported heavy smoke and fire coming from the top floor and the roof of the two-story house. Fire personnel from Elgin, Algonquin, Lake in the Hills, Barrington, East and West Dundee, Cary, Huntley, Hoffman Estates, Streamwood, South Elgin and Palatine assisted.
No injuries were reported on the scene and the cause remains under investigation.
The Herreras are now staying with relatives in Carpentersville, Skillman said.
If you would like to mail a check, please write it out to SVDP St. Monica, with "Herrera family" on the memo line. You can mail them to: St. Monica Parish, Attn. St. Vincent De Paul, 90 N. Kennedy Drive, Carpentersville, Ill. 60110.