An Abbotsford couple whose house was destroyed by a chimney fire on Nov. 11 will have a new home thanks to an outpouring of public support.
The Abbotsford Firefighters Charitable Society and the Abbotsford Police Union met on Saturday with Bill and Ann Connor, who lost their home on Downes Road. Bill has lived on the property since he was two years old.
The two organizations are now co-ordinating donations for the couple, who did not have insurance to cover damage or repair costs.
Const. Ian MacDonald said the Connors, both in their 80s, had been fielding a number of offers from businesses and individuals wanting to help, but it was difficult for them to determine which ones were legitimate.
MacDonald said the co-ordinators are now focusing only on volunteer offers and donated items – nothing with strings or money attached.
Those offers have been numerous.
“There have been many moments where our members who are close to this have become very emotional in response to the generosity,” he said.
Two businesses have paid for the Connors to stay in a hotel suite for a month, after their emergency accommodation funding ran out on the weekend.
Another business has donated appliances, and a woman offered to give the couple her motor home.
Numerous donations have also been made of furniture, clothing, building supplies and labour.
MacDonald said the firefighters and police have many skilled tradespeople – such as electricians, painters and roofers – who have volunteered to help rebuild the home.
He said the groups are awaiting the results of engineering reports to determine whether the home can be gutted and rebuilt from the foundation, or whether it needs to be demolished.
Crews plan to be on scene on Wednesday to help with clean-up efforts. MacDonald said co-ordinators will have a better idea at that time of what personal items the couple can salvage from the home, and what items they might still require.
He said the goal is to have a new home for the couple and the replacement of their necessities without having to dip into a trust fund that was formed by friends of the Connors.
Cash donations are still being accepted into that fund at any branch of TD Canada Trust. The account number is 9035-6371813.
For all other donations, call Sgt. Judy Dizy at 604-835-1316.
Meanwhile, the Save-on Foods location in Aldergrove holds a fundraiser for the Connors. The store will have a “wishing well” set up for donations from Thursday, Nov. 22 to Saturday, Dec. 1.
In addition, on Saturday, Nov. 24, the site will have a Plinko board set up in the store, with lots of prizes to be won. Each Plinko chip is $2 or three for $5, and a barbecued hot dog and a pop will sell for $2. All proceeds go to the Connor Family in trust.