Donations flood in for fire victims

Volunteers sort through the mound of donations dropped off at the New Westminster Salvation Army for victims of Friday
Volunteers sort through the mound of donations dropped off at the New Westminster Salvation Army for victims of Friday's fire that destroyed an apartment complex at Fourth Avenue and Ash Street.
— image credit: Photo contributed/Salvation Army

About a half a dozen of the people who stopped by the Shiloh United Church Hospitality Project took one look at the piles and piles of donations and declared, "This is what I love about New Westminster!"

That's what Coun. Jaimie McEvoy, executive director of the project, witnessed all weekend long as donations flooded in for victims of Friday's fire in Uptown New Westminster that left 36 people homeless with only the clothes on their back. It wasn't long before they had more than enough. Way more than enough.

"The response was phenomenal, it was a fantastic response. I felt so good," said McEvoy.

Along with large bags of footwear, McEvoy counted up 56 bags of bedding, 77 boxes of household items, 61 jackets and coats, 126 bags of other clothing, three umbrellas and six toques, which should come in handy considering the chilly weather forecast this week.

"This is a lot more than we need for the people in that fire," said McEvoy.

And that's just at Shiloh. Donations were also accepted at the Salvation Army and St. Barnabas church.

"We have piles of clothes and now we're bringing in volunteers to sort them," said Pastor Sharon Tidd on Monday morning. "The community is really coming to the rescue."

Someone brought in a brand new dish set and many more used ones were donated that were in good condition along with linens, electronics and toys.

McEvoy said the three churches will get together Wednesday morning at St. Barnabas for a sort-a-thon. The burned building's residents will get first crack at the items, but the churches and the social service agencies involved—the Lookout Society, Fraserside and Senior Services—will determine how to distribute the other donations. They'll also help go over the various options for securing long-term housing for the building residents.

"There's been an outpouring of support from the community, which is very gratifying," said city spokesman Blair Fryer. "This fire burned [the apartment block] completely, and was very destructive. But one thing is very clear in this community, it knows how to pull together when there's a tragedy like this. It's done so in the past, and it has done so again."

McEvoy also pointed out although the building wasn't supposed to have pets the city's emergency pet services took in four cats, a dog and a bird rescued from the fire.

• Community Savings Credit Union has set up an account to support the fire victims. Donations can be made to account 994665 at the New West branch at 1188 Eighth Ave., or the credit unions other branches in Burnaby, Surrey, Coquitlam, Vancouver and Victoria.

• A benefit dance featuring three disc jockeys is being put on by Anonymous Productions at The Metro, 759 Carnarvon St., on Friday night. Tickets in advance for the alcohol-free event are $10 or $15 at the door with the dance floor opening at 8:15 p.m. For more tickets and more info call 778-866-7385.

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