Thousands raised by community after fire destroys gifts
published on 16 Dec 2020
Within just hours of a fire severely damaging the Salvation Army church in St Ives and destroying donated gifts and food hampers for vulnerable families, the community has raised thousands of pounds to ensure local people will not go without.
No one was hurt in the fire which spread from a nearby building to the Salvation Army hall on the evening of Friday 4 December but 180 parcels were lost. However, generous donations soon poured in from the public to make sure that no struggling family faced a bleak Christmas.
The St Ives Salvation Army church leader, Lieutenant Nathan Loxley, said: “We are saddened that our building and that of our neighbours have been damaged by fire and we lost generously donated toys. But we have been overwhelmed by the care, concern and redoubled efforts of our community to ensure that families who have been hardest hit by the pandemic will still have the support they need this Christmas.
“While it could’ve been a story of devastation, for us it has been a real echo of the Christmas message – a reminder of the hope that came with Jesus’ birth and that shines through the darkest of days. Our community has really embraced that spirit in getting behind us in bringing that hope to those most in need as we celebrate Christmas.”
In addition to thousands of pounds of support and additional toy and food donations, the church received quick assistance from its community and local authorities, with St Ives council ensuring the church had a base from which to operate its Christmas appeal. The church is also grateful for the quick actions of the firefighters tackling the blaze and for the way in which people have stepped in to offer kind words and support through volunteering.
Nathan said: “We’ve been blown away by people’s support and the way people have embraced us to offer anything they can - time, building space, donations. In an awful situation God is using it for good in St Ives.”