Outside the burnt buildings that families once called home are the remnants of life: an “Annie” doll, winter coats, a slipper, a baby carriage.
They are important reminders that, while so much was destroyed in the fire that devastated residents in Middle Village earlier this week, life is not over. They are reminders, for those who lost so much, that, in a sea of all that has vanished, there are still pieces of you, waiting for you to reclaim them, to start building lives once again.
And, for those of us who were not directly impacted, they are reminders that whole lives were completely changed this week – and we need to step up and help. Thank goodness no residents were physically harmed in the blaze that took 200 firefighters three hours to bring under control – but they still need a lending hand.
In a matter of moments, people lost nearly everything this week – their homes, the house where they grew up or raised families, their irreplaceable wedding photos and pictures of relatives long gone. True, that which we can never get back, our lives, were not taken – and that is something worth remembering over and over in the hard days immediately following the fire – and those that will undoubtedly continue to come. But, we all know that it is possible to die many emotional deaths when something like this happens – and that it takes time, and support from others, to get through times you never thought possible just a week ago.
So many of us know what it is to lose everything. So many of our readers, who saw everything they owned floating in basements and living rooms and bedrooms in Hurricane Sandy, know, still vividly, how that feels.
And we know how it is up to neighbors to come forward – to bring forward donations. So much is needed – clothes, toiletries, toys for the children. Of those displaced, more than a dozen are between the ages of 2 and 19.
St. Margaret’s, which had a number of children impacted by the fire, will be collecting gift cards for supermarkets, restaurants and pharmacies such as CVS. For more information about donating, contact the school’s principal, Philip Franco, at (718) 326-0922.
The church is also helping families who were forced from their homes and will be collecting everything from toys to toiletries. Those who want to know more about that can call (718) 326-1911.
These are the times, when our neighbors are, all of a sudden and without warning, living in very dark moments, that we have to take it upon ourselves to step away from our busy lives and remember one of the most important parts of what it is to be human – helping.