A string of acquaintances has led to a volunteer organization – Fire Angels. Inc. – that already has assisted 25 families whose homes were destroyed by fire in the last 16 months.
The Fire Angels’ latest rapid response provided much-needed and very timely help to two families displaced by a devastating fire that destroyed a duplex near Main and Meridian streets in downtown Greenwood on the night before Christmas Eve.
Greenwood, Bargersville, and White River Township Fire Departments responded to the blaze just one block from Greenwood Fire Station 91 on Main Street. Two firefighters sustained minor injuries.
Within hours, the Fire Angels utilized their contacts and social media to collect clothes, necessities, and presents for Christmas for four adults, a teenage girl, a 5-year-old girl, and a 9-year-old boy. They salvaged some clothes from the fire that were sent out to be cleaned.
Within 24 hours, items that filled a van four times were brought to the nearby Greenwood Fire Station on East Main Street. The families came to the fire station and selected the clothing items they needed.
“Those two families were going to have a very blessed Christmas morning after a devastating fire,” said Fire Angel volunteer Jenny Carrington of Greenwood. “Our hearts are full; to think that so many people would stop what they were doing the day before Christmas – shopping, preparing food for family gatherings, just getting ready for Christmas – to stop and obtain so many items to help these families in need.
“To see how great it was, to see a community put their lives on pause for these families, just makes me tear up.”
Carrington and Fire Angels founder-president Brittany Painter of Whiteland expressed their appreciation to first donors Approved Mortgage and Greenwood firefighters to help load all the donated items into a van for delivery to the stricken families nearby.
Their benevolence, quick action, and community response were featured on WRTV, Channel 6 on Dec. 26.
One of the families found temporary housing and the other family is looking for a rental.
The volunteer organization’s aim is simple: to help the families who have suffered the devastation of a disaster to their home.
“It was inevitable for all of us,” Carrington reflected on the group’s brief history.
They have accumulated immediate necessities, including shoes, blankets, hygiene products, treats for pets, car seats, and more.
Impetus for the Fire Angels began in 2021 when Brittany voluntarily reached out to Felisha and Zach Morris through social media and their daughter for any assistance she could offer after a blaze destroyed the Morris home. That experience resulted in Brittany contacting Jenny to begin the process of forming the Fire Angels, a Johnson County-based nonprofit and a board of directors, so they could help future families displaced by a home fire.
For the record, the first fire that the Fire Angels assisted with came on Aug. 27, 2021, two miles from the Carrington home at 1 a.m. Since then, Fire Angels have helped over two dozen families, each in Johnson County.
Brittany, who owns Touch of Sparkle cleaning services, wanted to be a firefighter but with a blended family of six children, she realized “God’s plan” was something different – eventually forming Fire Angels, Inc.
“My goal in this is to make sure that no one feels alone in their tragic time of need and making sure they have what they need without feeling like they have to ask for the hand-out,” Painter said.
The core group of Fire Angels also includes Carrington as vice president; Brittany’s husband, Jason Painter, Whiteland, Lennar construction manager, secretary-treasurer; Felisha Morris, Whiteland, photography business owner, on-site coordinator, whose husband Zach is a 16-year firefighter and fire department-angels liaison; Becky Davy (Brittany’s sister), Johnson County WIC, director of resources; and Caitlin Jones, Greenwood, Grassy Creek Elementary School librarian, director of special events.
Jenny and Brittany first met because they had sons playing on the same youth baseball team.
“We are all faith-based people,” Carrington said. “We have a very strong desire to help our brothers and sisters in their dire time of need.”
The Fire Angels assist solely in Johnson County through volunteers, donations, and a variety of fund-raising events, including the already-popular 5K Fire Run at Whiteland High School. The organization’s first purse bingo night, hosted by Cross Country Mortgage, raised $16,891.97 last year.
They also conducted a blanket drive with host Ruoff Mortgage and a sock drive with host Bailey & Wood.
The Fire Angels took part in the 2021 and 2022 Whiteland Community Days, Greenwood Freedom Festival, Burn the Cork, White River Township Fire Department Trunk or Treat, Feed the Fireman dinner, and Stuff a Truck to help stock the rehabilitation truck to support on-the-scene firefighters.