After a fire killed two people and burned six houses on the 200 Block of Russling Ave in Trenton, Jenna Figueroa Kettenburg received a Facebook message asking for help. The message was from an unidentified Trenton resident who had seen Kettenburg’s work with community coat drives and thought she would be the perfect person to help out the families who lost their homes.
“After the fire happened, a woman reached out to me on Facebook and said, Hey Jenna, I know you do a lot for the community. Can you help these families at all? And I said, I would love to…what information do you have?” Kettenburg said.
Afterward, she received a message from Yan Mei Wang, another community activist and Mercer County committee member who focuses on working with the Asian Immigrant community, asking where she can drop donations from the Asian American community. “I saw her notice, and I realized, well my gosh…the residents want to give, but they don’t know where to. So now there is finally somewhere to give that can help real people in need,” Wang said.
The two were connected beforehand at other coat drives, but this was the first time Wang began taking carloads of clothes, gifts, and other donations. On the day of the interview, Wang was on her fourth carload filling up Kettenburg’s house with donations that came in suitcases, trash bags, and storage bags. Though, across the state of New Jersey, Kettenburg has been receiving emails.
On Jan. 3rd, the Trenton PBA 11 Police Union released a statement asking for help. “In coordination with Trenton firefighters FMBA Local Six, we would like to ask for your help. In relief during this difficult time for the families that were displaced by this tragic incident,” Michale Cipriano said in a statement. They are asking for gift cards or checks. If you plan to write a check, please put in the memo line “For Russling Families.”
Police Director Steve Wilson explained that the Trenton PD is here to help. “That’s what cops do… That’s why they get in the business to help. If they can put the union power behind that to help some more, then that’s a good thing,” Wilson said.
To add, on Wednesday, Wang brought over a $500 check from her community to give to Freddy Mejia, the uncle and brother of one of the families who lost their home. He went to Kettenburg’s house to pick up the check and the clothes for them. “I’m very happy,” Mejia said, “because there are a lot of people who like to help us and I’m really happy about that. Thank you so very much.”
Kettenburg said that this whole experience has been overwhelming.” It has been overwhelming in a good way… there have been people in Trenton that have come by, but it’s also set my heart more. There have been people outside of Trenton that, you know, do care, you know,” Kettenburg said.
To help out, you can reach out to Kettenburg on Facebook or phone at (609)-213-7778. “These negative pretenses about what Trenton is and who the people in Trenton are, when a community comes together to help people, you just get hope because maybe everybody’s perception is not the same,” Kettenburg said.