DJ Hendrickson and Sabrina Devoll are a young couple.
They've been renting a house as they get started in their lives together. They both work -- young son Carson is dropped off at the Carousel Preschool and Daycare in Spirit Lake.
So when a fire recently charred the interior of the family's home on a Monday morning, they lost a lot.
Spirit Lake firefighters needed a ladder truck to follow billowing smoke coming from the top of the small home. Spirit Lake police officers and sheriff's deputies blocked off the street for several hours as routine cleanup continued throughout the snowy and cold morning of Dec. 30.
Diane Albers and Darcy Sundall run a daycare and see the family each day. They're glad to still greet Carson after the terrible news. And, they've asked DJ what they can do -- but the father is reluctant to ask for help.
"It was kind of like pulling teeth to get anything out of them," Albers told us. "But I would assume they lost their furniture and everything because he said the whole inside is just blackened."
A group of people, led by Albers and Sundall, is quietly organizing an effort to give the family a better start to 2014. Carson has the clothes he needs, but his parents lost much of what they wear. Devoll wears size 18 pants and XL tops. Hendrickson wears 32 x 34 pants and medium shirts.
The daycare at 904 15th Street continues to accept donations on the family's behalf. The Carousel staff thinks they could use socks, undergarments, gift cards, toys and bedding.
"It's really nice in a small community when we can rally around these people," Iowa Great Lakes Area Chamber Program Director Jen Johnson-Ross said. "When we don't even have the very basic of things, it's hard. How do you go to work? How do you function?"
The United Community Bank location in Okoboji has set up an account for people who would like to make a donation for the family. The fund is in Sabrina Devoll's name.
The family is also looking for an affordable place to relocate. Information about available rental properties can be relayed to the family through Carson's preschool directors.