EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 17, 2013

Donations sought for fire victims

By Jill Harmacinski

---- — LAWRENCE — Three local families burned out of their homes this month are staying in local hotels and donations are will be accepted to extend their stays until they can find new apartments.

Volunteers working with the Lawrence group Heal Lawrence are looking for donors who can pay for additional nights in the La Quinta in Andover and the Holiday Inn in Lawrence, where the fire victims are temporarily staying.

Heal Lawrence volunteer Juan “Manny” Gonzalez, who is also a Lawrence firefighter, said people can call him directly at (978) 902-2336 if they want to help. While Heal Lawrence does not take cash donations, Gonzalez said he has contact names at each hotel and can bridge the donation process.

The three families will likely be in the hotels at least through this week. “Until they can find apartments,” Gonzalez said.

A mother and three children were burned out of a multi-family home on Dec. 2 when fire broke out at 45 Perry Ave. The blaze caused roughly $100,000 in damage.

Then, last Thursday, two families lost their homes when fire destroyed a two-family home at 52 Monmouth St. That house will be torn down as a result of the fire, officials said.

All three families are in need of three bedroom apartments in the city, Gonzalez said.

The American Red Cross provided immediate assistance and shelter for the families. After two days in a hotel, Heal Lawrence then steps in to help the victims find new homes and other items.

“We accept no cash or checks. We get gift cards and pass them out to our clients. Hotels are paid for by donors directly,” said Wayne Hayes, a fellow Heal Lawrence volunteer.

For more information, check out heallawrence.org or email Hayes and Gonzalez at heallawrence@aol.com.

Follow staff reporter Jill Harmacinski on Twitter @EagleTribJill.