AuSABLE FORKS — Cars filled the parking lot and the streets surrounding American Legion Post 504 here.
Inside, scores of people passed through the buffet line, with volunteers serving up salad, spaghetti, rolls and baked goods.
They were there to help the Kelley family, who lost their 1647 Route 9N home in Clintonville and all their belongings in an Oct. 15 fire.
In the wake of the disaster, it has been rough for Patty Kelley and the three grandchildren she began raising on her own after her husband, Russell, died in February 2011.
“I don’t know what I would have done if I was on my own,” she said.
She received just enough money from her insurance company to pay off the mortgage of the home she had lived in for 38 years. Everything else, save a few family photos, was gone.
But even on the day of the fire, help was on the way.
Friend Linda McKiernan of AuSable Forks put up a post on her Facebook page asking for clothing, shoes and other essentials that the family would need right away.
“Within five minutes, my Facebook page was blowing up,” McKiernan said of the overwhelming response from those who know the family and others who didn’t.
People began dropping items off for the Kelleys at McKiernan’s home, and checks arrived in the mail from as far away as Watertown, Albany and Pennsylvania, she said.
Within a short time, collected $2,000 for the Kelleys.
TEACHER JOINS EFFORT
About a month ago, Donna Ruggeri, a seventh-grade English teacher at AuSable Valley Middle School, decided she wanted to do something to help, too.
She had previously had one of the fire victims, Zachary, 16, as a student, and she is currently teaching his younger brother Jimmy, 15. In a couple of years, she will likely have 13-year-old Carl, the youngest, too.