AYER - "We had a large amount of clothing," said Chuck King, President of the Ayer Business Alliance (ABA). As King marveled Friday at the public's generosity in the wake of the June 18 fire at 63 Main Street in Ayer, another donation came in.
This was a predominantly red and white quilt donated by the Squanicook Colonial Quilt Guild which has a supply of quilts it donates in crisis situations like this. A quilt was given to each couple burnt out of their home and to the two young boys who lived in the building.
"These are made specifically for their donations," said Becky Audette, who delivered a quilt to King for a fire victim. "Anytime there's a fire and a family is put out of their home, they donate."
King said the public showed in force last Wednesday night for the ABA Classic Car Cruise night. The call was put out for clothing donations for the 8 adult and two juvenile fire victims. King filled his truck with the clothing left even after the tenants carried away clothing. The rest was transported to Loaves and Fishes pantry on Devens were the fire victims can go to pick up more as needed.
King said it was an amazing night. Cooking food at the event was Matthew Field, co-owner of the building lost in the blaze, and his neighbor, Nick Laggis, owner of P.N. Laggis men's clothing store.
The clothing store sustained smoke damage and will be closed till early July. But last Wednesday, the focus was on the 10 tenants who lost their homes in the June
"It was just a huge outpouring of community people. Not just from Ayer, but from surrounding towns, with everyone caring about what happens to these people. They brought clothing, shoes, toys for the kids - things that people would not think about," said King. "Mary Spinner brought paper towels and toilet paper, toothpaste and toothbrushes. That's the care that's going into this."
"A guy came up to me and donated and said 'I'll tell you, I lost my house 25 years ago to a fire. I know what it's like," said King.
King is planning another relief event. This Friday, June 29 at Billiards Café at 39 Main Street there will be an open mic night with a bucket for cash donations for the fire victims. Non-perishable food items will also be accepted for Loaves and Fishes pantry. King said the tenants will have ongoing expenses and the donations will help at this tough time.
Friday was the last night that the tenants could take advantage of Red Cross subsidized hotel stays locally. ERA Key Realty owner/broker Ron Morrison said his real estate agency at 21 Main Street has volunteered to serve (free of charge) as a clearinghouse to match the displaced tenants with local landlords with apartments. Those with available units to let are asked to contact Morrison at (978) 772-4101.
The 63 Main Street Fire Relief Fund is being administered by Ayer Business Alliance. Donations can be mailed to 63 Main Street Fire Relief Fund c/o Fresh Ayer Sports store, 3 Park Street, Ayer, MA 01432. King is aiding in the relief effort.
Follow Mary Arata at Twitter.com/maryearata and Facebook.com/mary.arata.