Dassel community makes Christmas brighter for the Palm family
By Kristen Miller
When a fire damaged much of the Palm family’s home in Dassel just days before Christmas, the community did not hesitate to show support.
It began with the Dassel Volunteer Fire Department and the help of Cokato’s fire department “knocking down the fire,” said Dale Grochow, Dassel’s fire chief.
After the fire was contained, an immediate call by the fire department was made to the American Red Cross.
Emergency assistance was quickly given to the family that afternoon, according to Gethsemane Lutheran Church pastor, the Rev. Steve Olson, who tended to the family after the fire.
The Red Cross workers moved through red tape in order to assist the Palm family including replacing prescriptions and providing a Red Cross credit card.
“I’m overwhelmed by the support. I don’t know how to say ‘thank you’,” husband and father, Shannon Palm told Pastor Olson.
A portable heater was the cause of the fire, according to Casey Stotts, an investigator with the state fire marshal’s office.
The fire was reported at 11:56 a.m. on the morning of Dec. 21 by a person going to the Palm residence to use a tanning bed, according to Grochow.
Stotts wouldn’t speculate when the fire actually began, but that there was “extensive internal damage.”
Wife and mother, Shari was out Christmas shopping and the five children were at school when the fire occurred, according to Olson.
“We are deeply grateful the fire occurred when the family was out of the house,” he said.
Within hours, the school responded with more than $700 and a pick-up load of food.
Pastor Olson was there to comfort the family, especially the Palm’s 15-year-old daughter.
“Imagine going to school one day, and coming home to find everything you’ve had is gone,” Olson said.
So, he took her shopping for replacement clothes that afternoon.
With Shannon serving on the church council and being neighbors, Olson knows the family on a personal level.
“They are wonderful people,” he said.
The exterior of the home is not damaged, but the interior was heavily damaged by smoke and heat, making it currently uninhabitable, according to Grochow. The insurance company will make the determination whether or not the home is a complete loss, he added.
The family was welcomed to stay at a fully-furnished Lake Jennie home that was unoccupied at the time, according to Olson.
On Christmas Eve, the fire department brought Santa Claus to the temporary Palm residence.
There were many community groups that helped the Palm family during this tragic time including the community chest, Dassel ministerial, the elementary and middle school, Toys for Tots, and others.
“I am truly encouraged and grateful for the support given to this family by the community. It is a true expression of the Christmas spirit,” Olson said.
Thanks to the generosity, the family’s immediate needs have been met, according to Olson, but there is a fund established for the family at Gethsemane Lutheran Church. Send donations to GLC Palm Family, PO Box C, Dassel, MN 55325. Another account is also set up at Wells Fargo, Dassel, for the family.