Meridian, Miss. The steady downpour of rain didn't stop the hundreds who were in attendance for a fish fry fundraiser, to benefit the many families who lost everything in a recent fire at Western Gardens Apartments. The fish fry held at the Meridian Housing Authority was just one way that the City of Meridian as a whole is coming out together, putting their differences aside and helping others.
"The city is really trying to come together," Resident Advisory Board President Brenda Griffin said. "You know we have a lot of violence going on, but since this event we aren't focusing on the violence, we're focusing on the families."
It's these families that have lost everything, that are being embraced by a community as they recover.
"You know we're only as strong as our weakest link and when one hurts we all hurt," Ward 4 Councilwoman Kim Houston said. "I think it's important that we show the world that we might have our differences, we may come from this place or that place, but at the end of the day we are Meridian, all of us."
For many who came out to support the cause, they reflected on the thought that this could have been them.
"This could have been on of us or our kids," MHA Resident Virginia Walker said. "I'm just so happy and glad that everybody got out and nobody suffered. It's just really bad that everyone lost everything and it's just really sad. My heart goes out to each and every family."
At the end of the day, it's the commitment, love, and support of those around the victims that become a symbol of hope, that everything will be alright.
"We keep standing, we keep pushing and my prayer is that it will bring us closer together," said Houston. "This is just another step to help us say you know what, it's timeout for some of this foolishness, let's come together with one voice to make this community even stronger."
If you would like to help the victims of the fire, you can make a donation at any location of Trustmark Bank in Meridian, in the name of Western Gardens Fire Victims. You can also send a donation to P.O. Box 870 in Meridian, or call 604-693-4285.