Waldo Canyon fire victims worried about safely sifting through rubble to find personal items are getting free assistance.
Samaritan's Purse, a faith-based relief organization from North Carolina, is partnering with two local churches to recruit volunteers. Crews dress in protective gear and sift through the ashes and rubble of destroyed homes.
"We usually do the things that most contractors don't do," said Wayne Shoemaker, program manager for Samaritan's Purse. "We really try to focus on the people who are uninsured or have no other way of doing things like this."
Shoemaker said about 45 residents have signed up for the service, and 50 volunteers are doing the work. The effort actually is a ministry in which the volunteers pray and present affected families with a signed Bible.
Jonni McCoy, who said she has worked with Samaritan's Purse before, was thankful for the Bible because her family's Bible was destroyed in the fire. Volunteers worked Wednesday in the rubble of her home on Courtney Drive in Mountain Shadows.
"What they found are the ceramic items that my daughter made when she was young," said McCoy. "That means the world to us. The hardest part about the fire is losing things that have memory."
Shoemaker said the free sifting will continue for the next month or so. For more information, call the local number at 719-439-9394.
KRDO NewsChannel 13 found that Samaritan's Purse is not endorsed by the Better Business Bureau because of lacking information about finances and compensation for board members, one of whom earns a salary of $500,000.
Carol Odell of the BBB said that salary seems unusually high for a nonprofit charity that should devote more money to programs and less to salaries.
However, Shoemaker said Samaritan's Purse and its volunteers don't accept donations in the field, and provide free labor.
McCoy had no worries about the organization's motives.
"I know who they are and what they do," she said.