Community stepping up for victims of New Year’s Day fire in Fall River

FALL RIVER, MASS. (WHDH) - The Fall River community is coming together after a New Year’s Day fire at the Four Winds apartment complex left about 80 people without a home.

Since the fire, donations have been pouring in for the victims.

“People are bringing us clothes, coats, baby car seats,” said Rachel Degroot, a resident who lost her home in the fire. “Everything that we needed right then, it was taken care of before we could even think about it.”

Rachel, Zach, and 4-year-old Zoe lost everything in the fire, including the toys Zoe had just opened on Christmas.

When Christopher Peckham came across a social media post about Zoe not understanding why her toys were not safe, he created a toy drive to help all of the children going through the same thing.

“Being that it was five or six days after Christmas, they all had just gotten their brand new toys,” Peckham said. “I have two daughters and a son and that hit home because I pictured them at four years old, sitting under the tree unwrapping their gifts and then thinking of these kids doing the same thing and then losing it all.”

The American Red Cross of Massachusetts is also helping those affected by the fire with a multi-agency resource center.

“We are taking them through, table to table, and identifying the things that they need,” Lloyd Ziel, an America Red Cross of Massachusetts spokesperson, said.

Many of these volunteers have been with the victims since the tragedy and they are using this one-stop-shop as a way of bringing everyone together for everything they need.

“It allows people to come in and talk to Health and Human Services and to United Way and to Catholic charities, and get vouchers for things, get new IDs,” Ziel said.

The resource center will be available for victims on Tuesday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Fall River City Hall.

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