SPRINGVILLE, N.Y. (WIVB) — The Village of Springville is banding together, helping families displaced by last week’s apartment complex arson allegedly caused by another tenant in the building. Residents in the rural Erie County village have donated items like clothes and blankets, even essentials like toilet paper to help.
In just a week, the Springville Moose Lodge has collected tables of clothing, toiletries, homeware items, and even some furniture. Several area organizations offered their buildings as donation drop off sites where families from the Springbrook Apartments could browse for essential items they lost in the blaze.
“Last Thursday we had one like 8-foot table and by Saturday afternoon we had all of this [referencing the room full of items],” Connie Tanner-Buchanan, administrator for the Springville Moose Lodge, said. “It’s stressful enough, I’m sure, for them knowing that they’ve lost memories from their lifetime, but if this helps in anyway to make their lives easier.”
Tanner-Buchanan called the quick response from residents overwhelming. Leaders from Moose Lodge said they knew they wanted to support these families right away.
“We knew we would get a response. We had no idea the enormity of the response that we got and how quickly people were able to gather things up and bring things in,” Kathy Winkey, trustee for the Springville Moose Lodge, added.
Anne Vasi, a local resident, works at Lowe’s and stopped by the Moose Lodge on Monday to donate dozens of toiletry kits. She said the company provided an abundance of these kits to employees during one of the winter storms in 2022. The store decided to donate them to help the families.
“Just try your best and see what you can find and it will help anybody. Even the smallest thing that you think won’t matter will matter like toilet paper,” Vasi said.
Vasi calls the community effort inspiring and encourages others to donate what they can to support those in desperate need.
“Just seeing the room and the stuff that’s in here that people donated it’s amazing. What you can find that you don’t need that somebody can have,” Vasi added.
Winkey says she is proud to be a resident of Springville because the community is there to lift up others when they need it the most.
“Knowing that if it were you, there would be someone there to lend a helping and it makes you want to do for others,” Winkey continued.
The Springville Moose Lodge will be open Tuesday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. to accept any donations from the community.
The First Presbyterian Church is also accepting donations, according to Tanner-Buchanan. As the families settle into their new homes in the near future, the Moose Lodge will continue to collect necessary items. Once the families have relocated, they plan to donate any left over items to other area causes.
The Springville Moose Lodge is hosting a dinner to thank first responders from that fire on Feb. 18. Moose Lodge leaders say firefighters were on scene until Tuesday morning battling the blaze and they want to say thank you to them for their work.
The Gowanda Moose Lodge at 201 Aldrich Street is open for donation drop-offs Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They are also hosting a benefit event on Feb. 25, where all proceeds will go to the four displaced families. A local band, Tennessee Whiskey, is donating their time to provide entertainment and there will be several raffles.
The fire was started Jan. 23 just before 11 p.m. 36-year-old Sara Lilley was arraigned Wednesday morning on a charge of second-degree arson. The subject of more than 60 emergency calls over six months, Lilley has been accused of starting the fire that recently displaced four families at Springbrook Apartments.
Lilley is due back in court Feb. 6.
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Tara Lynch is a Buffalo native who joined the News 4 team as a reporter in 2022. She previously worked at WETM in Elmira, N.Y., a sister station of News 4. You can follow Tara on Facebook and Twitter and find more of her work here.