Bridgeport Fire: Many Hands Reach Out To Help

Elaine Marino has done yeowoman’s work, in the aftermath of the Bridgeport condo fire that displaced 120 residents. Here’s one more report, from late yesterday:

What a day! I was so happy that almost everything on my list was picked, and I could get to Bridgeport by 3 p.m.

On the way home, I stopped at Colony Pizza in Fairfield. As I pulled my car into the lot, a nice woman with 3 teens in her Jeep Wrangler backed right into me. My car has considerable damage to the passenger side, so the police were called.

As we waited in the parking lot, the Jeep caught on fire! Fortunately, the police arrived quickly and put the fire out immediately. The fire department came and inspected the Jeep. Luckily, no one was hurt.  What an ending to a great day!

Here is the scoop: 999 Broad Street in Bridgeport was pure chaos. Piles of items and furniture were left on the sidewalk because the municipal center was completely filled, so the police cordoned off the area.

Mary Ann West was another Westporter who helped. She photographed this scene of donations in Bridgeport...

Mary Ann West was another Westporter who helped. She photographed this scene of donations in Bridgeport…

I was directed to the new donation center at 837 Seaview Avenue, which is a huge warehouse. After donating, I asked if they wanted me to stay to help sort items, but they said no. They told me to stay tuned on Monday by checking the City of Bridgeport Facebook page:

There will be no donations accepted Sunday, while thousands of items are sorted. If someone expected to have their items picked up in Westport on Sunday, we will not be doing so.

Today (Saturday), 31 families across town that had requested pick-ups of their donations. It was impossible to do this alone. Fortunately, a team of guardian angels helped:

Rob Bolandian and daughters Grace and Hannah (Staples ’17 and ’19), plus Grover Fitch and Monika Lazaro, donated many things, picked up items all over town and made several trips to Bridgeport.

Staples alums Jack Ewert ’13 and Danny Ewert ’15 picked up sofas, tables and other heavy furniture in their truck and made several trips to Bridgeport.

Ed Gerber donated items, picked up items at neighbors’ homes and delivered them to Bridgeport.

Lynn Goldberg and Michelle Titlebaum donated items, picked up items at neighbors’ homes and brought the items to my house.

Kind fellow residents such as Lori Corenthal, Alison Schachter and Karen Sherman dropped off many items off at my house, and many other generous neighbors such as Carolyn Cohen took time to gather many new or gently used donations, which will help make the season brighter for the 54 families who fled their homes with only the clothes on their backs.

If If I missed anyone who dropped off items at my house, please excuse the oversight. It was a long day!

...and this one. (Photos/Mary Ann West)

…and this one. (Photos/Mary Ann West)

If you expected to have your items picked up today but they were not, please know that donations have been suspended until Monday at the earliest. They do not need any more clothing. The current most urgent need is for gift cards to Stop & Shop, Target and Bed Bath & Beyond.

Once BB&B saw 4 sets of Elsa and Anna bedding with pillows, and 4 sets of Star Wars bedding with pillows in my 2 shopping carts, they asked if I was purchasing items for the families affected by the fire. They applied 20% off automatically — no coupons required. Thank you, Jamie et al at BB&B Fairfield!

From what I was told, the most efficient use of donations and volunteers’ time is to shop at these stores with a designated list of what to buy and a (donated) gift card in hand. Please check the City of Bridgeport Facebook page for the appropriate municipal office address to deliver gift cards.

I sincerely appreciate everyone’s kindness, generosity and community spirit. I am so proud of our town.

4 responses to “Bridgeport Fire: Many Hands Reach Out To Help

  1. Elaine Marino

    Thank you to whomever dropped off donations at my house today. Boxes of diapers, toilet tissue, baby food, formula, etc. – these items are definitely needed. I will store the donations in my garage until the next instructions are provided. Please do not drop off clothes as I am not certain that I will be able to donate them once the collection starts up again. As for furniture donations, my understanding is that a specific list of furniture needs will be provided once the sorting and inventory process is completed, so please stay tuned.

    Thank you for turning out in numbers to help those in need,


  2. mary schmerker

    Elaine, from far away I thank you for your hard work and heartfelt efforts for those left homeless by the fire. I am so sorry that you experienced a personal problem in the form of an accident. Hopefully you are now surrounded by your friends and care is being offered to you.

  3. Mary Lynn Halland

    Wow! It brings tears to my eyes to read about the tremendous outpouring support for these families. May they all build wonderful, satisfying lives out of the ashes of this tragedy.

  4. awesome collection