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Community rallies to support fire victims

Bristol Community Services director Susan Colby (right) helped Nora Godbout (left) of the Franklin Elks unload the first carful of donations the Elks gathered to assist the victims of last week's fire in Bristol. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
September 12, 2018
BRISTOL – When a four-alarm fire broke out on Beech Street in Bristol last week, it didn't take long for members of the community to rally and lend their support for those who were left homeless by the blaze, which destroyed two apartment buildings.

Almost immediately, Bristol Community Services director Susan Colby said her organization got in touch with the victims and began collecting items they will need as they look to start over in a new home. The old community services building on North Main Street, across from Tapply-Thompson Community Center, was designated as a collection spot for household goods and clothing and people have been coming in steadily with donations for the past week.

A team of volunteers has been working steadily to keep up with all the incoming donations. The front room has shelves set up with kitchen items, a corner lined with bedding, and stacks of chairs, end tables and other furniture fill the rest of the room. In the back room, clothing is all being sorted and hung by size to make it easy for the fire victims to locate things they can wear.

"We've had some really nice clothing and things donated and it's all here for them to come and get whatever it is they need," said Colby. "Right now, it looks like we're all set with clothes but we may later need warm sweaters, coats and boots when the weather gets cold."

She and her volunteers have been amazed at the generosity of people who have donated to the cause, many not even from the Newfound area. Colby said a quilting group, known as Our Brother's Keeper, stopped by earlier last week with beautiful handmade quilts and quilted sleeping bags they had made. On Friday afternoon another big donation arrived from Franklin Elks, which included furniture, small kitchen appliances, a brand new set of dishes, pillows and even pet food.

And the deliveries kept on coming. Jonathan Young, a math teacher from Newfound Regional High School pulled up with yet another generous donation on Friday that came from students and staff at Sunapee Elementary School.

"My wife is a teacher there and when she told them what happened, the school got together and donated all of this. There's more to come on Monday," Young promised as he unloaded boxes of school supplies, new sneakers, and back packs.

Colby was stunned by the generosity of young children who don't even live in the area.

"This is just amazing," she said as she looked through all they had sent.

Besides housewares and furniture, food is available for them to pick up as well at the main BCS building around the corner on Pleasant Street. Colby said that for those who don't know how they can help, any and all donations of canned and dried goods are certainly welcome.

"This is the time of year we can always use donations of food, but we especially need it now," she said.

Anyone who would like to help meet the needs of those displaced by the fire may bring their donations to 21 N. Main St. during Bristol Community Service's normal hours of operation, which are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m., and Saturdays from 9 a.m. until noon.

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