Community comes to the aid of fire victims

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Regional - posted Mon., Feb. 4, 2013
Candles from a community vigil held on Jan. 30 in Rotary Park. Photos by D. Coffey.
Candles from a community vigil held on Jan. 30 in Rotary Park. Photos by D. Coffey.

News that a Jan. 22 fire had swept through a large Victorian in Putnam, leaving five families homeless and two small children dead, sent ripples throughout northeastern Connecticut. In the aftermath of the tragedy, the community has come together in a host of ways to support their own.

Shortly after news of the fire spread, WINY Radio, Putnam Bank and Citizen's Bank set up funds for the displaced families. Woodstock Academy students collected $400 at a fundraiser held at a basketball game. Waves Hair Studio in Plainfield held a cut-a-thon on Sunday, Feb. 3, to raise funds for two mothers and their families displaced by the fire. Owner Holly Brown said response to the event was overwhelming. The studio's 12 stylists offered cuts and facials for three hours on Feb. 3. A few stylists even came out of retirement to help. The event raised $1,800.

Chase Building Supply offered to collect donations for all the families affected at its Woodstock location. Donna Gaudreau has been serving as the point person at Chase. She said that so many people donated furniture, clothing, dishes, toys and sundry items that a storage trailer was needed. By Jan. 31, Chase had already sent four box truck loads to a donated storage trailer in Moosup.

Tara St. Hilaire of Corey's Crew teamed up with Jessica Jellison, owner of Jessica Tuesday's in Putnam, to plan a baby shower for the two expectant women displaced by the fire. Lauren Auger is expecting in weeks. According to St. Hilaire, Auger had a baby shower on the Sunday before the fire. “She lost everything. I know they need all kinds of things, but I thought, why not give her another shower?” St. Hilaire said.

The shower will be held on Feb. 10 from 11 a.m to 4 p.m. at Jessica Tuesday's in Putnam. Refreshments will be provided. Anyone wishing to drop off shower items before the 10th can leave them at any of the Gates dealerships in the area: Putnam Chrysler, Premier Chevrolet in Brooklyn, Gates GMC in Willimantic, and Columbia Ford in Columbia.

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