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Mpls. Community Helps Family Affected By Valentine’s Day Fire

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(credit: CBS) Holly Wagner
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A Minneapolis mother who lost nearly everything she owned in a deadly fire on Valentine’s Day is getting back on her feet thanks to the community.

The Valentine’s Day blaze destroyed Latonya Garret’s apartment, and killed five children in the apartment above it.

Garret and her kids survived the fire, but her neighbor Troy Lewis lost five of his seven children.

Saturday ‘Mad Dads’ held a fundraiser for the Garret and her family at its headquarters in South Minneapolis.

Garret said she is moving forward the only way she knows how.

“I try to block it out, basically, to the best of my ability, so that it doesn’t overwhelm me,” Garret said.

Grateful to be alive, she and her family had to start over.

“I had to start from nothing, my three toddlers we took them out of the house with no shoes, no coats…we started with nothing,” Garret said.

Mad Dads is one of several groups that have hosted fundraisers for her family.

People dropped off pots and pans, bedding and money.

For Garret, the generosity has been comforting and inspiring.

“I mean, it turns my inside around…it all goes around to the pay it forward,” Latonya said.

Thanks to all of the help they have a new place to live.

Thanks to donations, Garret has a new home and her kids have a bed to sleep on and a table to eat at.

She got a chance to help give back by handing out free smoke detectors to anyone who stopped by.

A little something in return that could be a life saver.

“I could be saving lives, so that right there means a lot to me,” Garret said.

A fund has been set up for the Garret family at BMO Harris bank.

Donations are also being collected for the surviving sisters of the Lewis family.

They can be made at any TCF Bank in the name of Shaca, Electra, and Troy Lewis.

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