Local News

Fire In Downtown Clayton Destroys Helping Hand Mission

Posted April 24, 2001 3:28 a.m. EDT

— A fire broke out in Clayton Friday night, destroying the Helping Hand Mission, a place where people in need went for help.

Firefighters from Smithfield, Wilson's Mills, Garner, and Knightdale were called in to help fight the fire. Two other businesses were threatened by the fire.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, but authorities suspect natural gas may be responsible.

The people who usually spend their Saturdays helping others in what used to be the Helping Hand Mission could only look at the fire damaged building and wonder. Gloria Sims worked at the Helping Hand Mission for eight years. She called it her home.

"That was my baby. I loved working with the people. I loved working with the public and all," she says. "Now I don't know what I'm going to do because it's gone. This is going to be a loss to me as well as the community."

The most important accomplishment for the firefighters was keeping the fire to one building.

It took some fast work and quick thinking to save the adjoining buildings on both sides. One was a family-owned furniture store.

Firefighters moved the furniture away from the wall and called the manager of a nearby hardware store out of bed to bring over some tarps to cover the furniture.

Leigh Hudson calls his helping out part of the joy of living in a small town like Clayton.

"I was glad to help out. It made me feel good," he says. "The opportunity to have those relationships where you know the fire chief and the police chief and the local hardware store owner [is wonderful]. Everyone knows everyone here, and we have to get in touch with each other when we have a time of need."

"It's going to be a loss but we're going to get it back together by the help of the Lord, Ms. [Sylvia] Wiggins [who operates the Helping Hand Mission], and the community," says Sims. -->

If you would like to help out in any way, you can call 919-828-9744.