Season of giving: Helping family displaced by fire

Jenison, Magnolia Drive, Justin and Alli Kemmerer
This home on Magnolia Drive in Jenison was destroyed in a fire on Dec. 19, 2017. The family inside escaped safely.


GEORGETOWN TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — All through a neighborhood off Port Sheldon Street in Jenison, there are front-door wreaths, decorations and other signs of Christmas. But at a home on Magnolia Drive, the scene is one of disaster.

Flames broke out in the chimney of the house around 1:30 a.m. Tuesday. The family living there — Justin and Alli Kemmerer and their three children — were able to make it out safely, but almost everything inside was destroyed.

“It’s that heartache of losing everything, everything that you own,” Matt Thompson, a pastor at Redemption Church in Grandville, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday,

Thompson is close friends with the Kemmerers. He said the family is now in desperate need of the essentials: toiletries and clothes for their 8-, 6- and 4-year-old sons. He’s also asking for donations of Christmas gifts for the boys to replace what was lost.

Kemmerer family
Photo: Alli and Justin Kemmerer and their sons (undated courtesy image).

On Tuesday night at Redemption Church, dozens of people dropped by to donate to the family and give them a true holiday.

“My phone’s been lighting up all day,” Thompson said. “Neighbors calling (saying), ‘Hey, what can we do? What can we bring? What needs do they have?'”

Among those looking to help was Bill Hall. He offered to open up his home to give the family a place to stay. His reason for helping is the same reason for the season. A cross hangs from his truck window.

“It’s Christmas and I’d want somebody to care if something happened to me,” Hall explained. “You try to help or do what you can, or at least let them know that you care.”

Their home is likely a total loss, but fortunately, the Kemmerers have a place to lay their heads this holiday. Family members live in the area and they will stay with them as the insurance company sorts out what’s next.

After the fire, it’s clear their family is a whole lot bigger than just relatives.

“It’s neat to see this area just rally around this family and just encourage them in this time of need,” Thompson said.

Justin and Alli Kemmerer told 24 Hour News 8 they were grateful their family escaped the fire unharmed and that they were overwhelmed by all the community support.

Justin Kemmerer’s brother created an online fundraiser for people who would like to help the family.

Redemption Church is also accepting donations. The church can be reached at 616.365.5425 or via email at info@redemptionchurchmi.com.