By CBSNewYork Team

LAKEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – An advocate for the homeless had his truck stolen shortly after helping some of the Lakewood/Brick fire victims relocate.

As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, Gary Day had been living in the woods off Cedar Bridge Avenue in Lakewood, along with a few others, until a brush fire that quickly spread a week ago Sunday sent him running for his life through a wall of smoke.

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“Next thing you know, I hear the crinkling, the crackling of the fire. I jumped up. Instincts kicked in,” he said. “Got through a little bit of fire, seen the smoke.”

Those in the homeless encampment grabbed what they could but only had minutes to get out.

Day’s first call was to Minister Steve Bringham, who has been serving the homeless for more than 20 years.

“Got me food when I had no food. Just recently got me a bike. Water when I had no water. A lot of stuff, blankets, clothing,” Day said.

Day showed Baker where Minister Steve helped relocate him to another safe place in the woods after the fire using his white Chevy Silverado truck.

“That truck is my workhorse. It’s my transportation. It’s where I bring all the tents and the tarps and the food and all those type of things to the homeless,” Bringham said.

That night, he parked it in Long Branch.

“About 8 o’clock, the truck was gone. Somebody had stolen my truck during the night,” he said.

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Minister Steve runs a soup kitchen every Sunday and sets up a clothing drive in Lakewood’s town square every Saturday, helping hundreds of people. There is no homeless shelter in Ocean County beyond an emergency shelter for cold nights.

Long Branch police say the truck was left unlocked with the keys in it.

So far, there are no leads.

If you’d like to make a donation, camping gear is always needed, including sleep bags, clothing and so on. You can send them to

Destiny’s Bridge

P.O. Box 692

Lakewood, NJ 08701

Additionally, a GoFundMe has been set up to help buy Minister Steve a new truck. To donate, visit gofundme.com/f/help-pastor-steve-buy-a-new-truck.

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Meg Baker contributed to this report. 

CBSNewYork Team