Storage unit filled with stuff of life greets family of 3

Jacinda Koehler, center, smiles as her children, 8-year-old Dallas, right, and 5-year-old Marshall check out Christmas presents they opened this afternoon at Liberty Self-Storage in Grand Junction.

When Grand Junction Lions Club member Steve Stewart asked Jacinda Koehler to meet him at Liberty Self-Storage on Saturday, she guessed she might be greeted by an empty storage unit — a gift in which she could begin storing new belongings after a devastating house fire earlier this month.

Stewart, as it turned out, was way ahead of her.

Key in hand, the single mother of 8-year-old Dallas and 5-year-old Marshall lifted the door to unveil a sleigh-full of stuff. A dining set. New mattresses and box springs. A new recliner. Bookcases, blankets, a television, a chest of drawers, silverware and Wal-Mart and Red Robin gift cards. Wrapped presents for the kids.

Christmas came a day early for the Koehler family in a corner unit off 25 Road.

“This is amazing,” Koehler said as she fought back tears. “I’m so thankful. I’m just blown away by everyone’s kindness and generosity.”

Koehler and her children lost everything but the clothes on their backs when fire ripped through their rented Whitewater trailer Dec. 8. Stewart knows the owners of Orchard Mesa Market, where Koehler is employed, and learned about the family’s hardship through them.

He made the rounds to several local businesses and got them to donate gift cards and merchandise.

“It’s a pretty good feeling being able to help somebody with this misfortune, being able to see smiles on faces,” Stewart said.

He watched Koehler hug and kiss her kids and look around the unit, then turned his head.

“I’ve got to walk away,” he said, “or I’m going to choke up, too.”


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