BOONVILLE, N.Y. (WKTV) - The community is coming together with an overwhelming show of support for the victims who were displaced after the block fire in Boonville on Thursday.
Within hours of the fire that destroyed the building that sat at the corner of Main Street and Church Street in Boonville, the United Methodist Church just down the street became a hub of activity. "We came over here for just having chairs and space and people just started pouring in," said Reverend Robert Dean of the United Methodist Church. "They brought food, coffee, drinks. They were just present and caring for needs."
Several rooms at the church are filling up fast with donations of food, clothing and toys. Volunteers are sorting through it all. At first clothing was in high demand, but now that need has been filled and they are looking to collect household goods, hygiene products and furniture. "It has been amazing just seeing that whether they can help by just bringing a toaster oven or by caring for people by buying them deodorant, people have been caring for them as best they can," said Pastor Dean. They could also use totes to transport the clothing. Call ahead to the church at (315) 942-2626 to make sure someone is there to collect donations.
Many people heard about the need for items through the local radio station, WBRV "The Moose." "It's been amazing. The phones have been ringing off the hook since we've started this," said WBRV Operations Manager Chris Flack. "People are just so great at helping in Boonville and we want to thank everyone for all their help whether they've donated or whether their volunteering their time to help as well."
A fund has been established by the Boonville Chamber of Commerce for monetary donations.
"Boonville Fire Victims 2013"
122 Main Street
Boonville, N.Y. 13309
Volunteers also say a gift card to a local pharmacy or a local restaurant would be a great idea. "People don't have kitchens all of the sudden and just the idea of having to sit down for a few hours in quiet and enjoy a meal is a gift we can give the people," said Pastor Dean.
They are also looking for leads on apartments, especially apartments with first floor accessibility. "There are people who are displaced who need first floor handicap accessible apartments and it's been hard to find them," said Pastor Dean. "There were very few before this and now there are even fewer so we've been collecting leads and passing them on to families as best that we can."
You can also find more information online at www.themoose.net. "As you know growing up in this community everyone is really tight knit and anytime there's a tragedy everyone does a really good job of opening up their hearts and their wallets and anything they can do to help people," said Flack.
One of the men displaced by the fire was inside the United Methodist Church on Friday, watching the donations come in. Dayton Leon remembers what it was like early Thursday morning, when the fire broke out. "I was sleeping and I kept choking, choking really bad," said Leon.
Leon woke up with the fire whistle, and wondered where the fire was. He quickly realized it was inside the building. "I opened the door and all the black smoke and the gray smoke gushed right in and I couldn't see nothing. I ran right to the hall and the smoke got worse. I said to myself 'I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die' so I dropped to my knees and then I crawled out," said
Leon moved to Boonville just this week from Herkimer to be closer to his son who lives across the street. His son was about to go to bed when the whistle went off. "He heard the whistle go off and he looked out the window and he saw the whole building go up in smoke. So he came over trying to save me but the smoke was overwhelming and he was just yelling, 'Dad, Dad.'" said Leon. Leon was the last person out of the building.
A local business was also destroyed by the fire. Mary Ward's salon "Hair Spa" was heavily damaged by water. On Friday, whatever could be salvaged from her business was removed. Ward was invited over to The Hair Company down the street so she could fulfill her clients appointments. We spoke with Mary on the phone and she told us she will be keeping all of her appointments and she would like to thank the community for their support.
Another local fundraiser to collect monetary donations online has been set up.