CAMDEN, NJ— A new fund has been started to help five families who lost their homes in a large fire right before Christmas.

Camden Lutheran Housing, Inc. [CLHI] has started the Cedar Street Family Fund at the South Jersey Federal Credit Union to gather monetary donations for each of the families.  

The North Camden nonprofit started the fund at the request of Mayor Frank Moran, however it is unaffiliated with the city and will be managed by the nonprofit.

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“Our intention is just to be supportive as the neighborhood nonprofit,” said Jessica Franzini, associate director of community initiatives for CLHI.

Shortly before 3 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 20, a two-alarm fire broke out at 947 Cedar St. The fire quickly spread to the homes at 949, 945, 943, 941 and 939 Cedar Street. Only minor injuries were sustained by both the residents and one Camden firefighter and Camden police officer. Five of the six homes were rendered uninhabitable.

Following the fire, a number of organizations rallied around the families to help provide them with toys and gift cards so the families could have a Christmas. Now, the Cedar Street Family Fund will help continue to help them get back on their feet.

CLHI will distribute 100 percent of the donations equally among the six families each week, however, will not ask the families to provide receipts or reports about how the money is spent.

“Each family will use the money for their own self-identified needs, and we will not ask them to report that back to us on that,” Franzini said. “Because, in talking through it as a team and some of us having experienced things that have displaced us from our home in the past, we don’t want to pass judgement on anyone in how they use this money.”

The fund will be collecting donations for 30 to 60 days, depending on the amount of donations received, Franzini said, and CLHI will track all the donors, all the amounts and how much money goes to each family and when that money is received.

To donate, visit https://clhi.org/donate/ and click on the yellow PayPal button. Enter the amount and put “Cedar Street Family Fund” in the special instructions to seller [under the amount of money section]. If you can’t input special instructions, please donate and then email Jessica Franzini at jfranzini@clhi.org saying it is for Cedar Street.

Donations can also be made by check. Checks should be made payable to “Camden Lutheran Housing, Inc.” with a memo of “Cedar Street Family Fund” and mail to (or drop off at): Camden Lutheran Housing, Inc., 800 Galindez Court, 1st floor main office, Camden, NJ 08102.

This story was corrected on Wednesday afternoon to refelct that the fund will be helping five families.

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