“Lawrence really does take care of its own,” said Jay Caporale, executive vice president and director of philanthropy, as he saw the quick community response after the city’s tragic fire October 21.
When news of the fire broke, financial gifts began pouring into the Lawrence Emergency Fund at Essex County Community Foundation. Now, barely a week after the tragedy, hundreds of donations have been received—and are still coming in. For instance, in less than a few days, some 60 checks ranging from $7.00 to $500.00, but averaging $25.00, have been sent either to Mayor Rivera’s office in Lawrence or to ECCF. Almost 50 credit card donations—including one for $3.00—have been made securely online from people throughout Essex County, even one from Bronx, New York. Cash gifts, too, are still being dropped off at the Mayor's office. Many of the gifts have come with simple notes to “help the fire people”; some were the result of spontaneous collections in restaurants or workplaces, as the Eagle Tribune newspaper recently reported.
The number of gifts kept climbing, so much so that on Friday, Oct. 31, at 11 a.m. Mayor Rivera—joined by ECCF CEO Dave Welbourn and Trustee Benny Espaillat—held a press conference at Lawrence City Hall to announce that over $60,000.00 had been raised so far for the Lawrence Emergency Fund!
The Fund, which was established at ECCF in 2009 by Lawrence philanthropists in the event of such tragedies, also received another boost when an ECCF fund holder asked to transfer $500 to the Lawrence Emergency Fund. ECCF has already issued one check to Lazarus House Ministries, Inc. in Lawrence for $4,200 to help the six families affected by the fires. The fund will address such needs as clothing, shelter, food and funeral costs for the families. (Financial donations online may still be made here. All cash or non-monetary gifts should be directed to the Mayor's Office in Lawrence City Hall.)
Obviously, neighbors in and around Lawrence know what it means to "give where you live." Thank you to everyone who has helped in response to the horrible news of how the fire has affected these families.