WEST DALHOUSIE - Nick and Alanna Bezanson’s house was still burning when the community started making plans to help them.
“Such generosity and basic compassion,” said Debbie Stultz-Giffin. She’s one of the people helping plan a major fundraiser for the Bezansons and their three children who were left homeless.
“By the time I arrived home Wednesday evening after the fire, I had a few messages that were virtually planning the fundraiser,” said Stultz-Giffin. “It was simply amazing to come home to those messages and others wondering how they could assist the family as they recover from such an overwhelming loss.”
She and Jonathan Gillis had opened the West Dalhousie Community Hall a kilometer down the road from the fire as the smoke was still billowing from the small two-storey home. They were making tea and coffee for firefighters, preparing food, and providing a place for the family if they needed supper and somewhere to go as they figured things out.
A tearful Alanna Bezanson arrived at the hall where she’s on the board of directors. Husband Nick was just down the road watching as firefighters from five departments fought the blaze from inside and out.
“The response of the immediate community of West Dalhousie and beyond has been astounding,” said Stultz-Giffin. “People are anxious to help.”
Somewhere to Stay
Stultz-Giffin said the family did have a place to stay.
“Nick and Alanna are staying in a house that was vacant, but owned by Nick's mother, that is located in our community,” she said. “It was partially furnished which has been a godsend for them and their children.”
While an end-of-the-month fundraiser at the hall is in the works, the tight-knit community is helping in others ways.
“An account has been set up at Scotiabank, Bridgetown only, where donations can be made,” Stultz-Giffin said. “Please tell the teller that your donation is being made to the West Dalhousie Community Hall Community Fund for the Bezansons and they will deposit accordingly.”
“Come out for a good time and an even better cause,” said Stultz-Giffin on a Facebook Event page she created. “There will be a rummage sale in the afternoon with items that have been donated that the family can't use, a canteen, and the start of a ticket auction; the evening will consist of music (featuring Don Graham, Christie O'Neil, One Before Twenty, and Higher Ground), munchies, a bake auction and more...stay tuned for details.”
She said local businesses are donating items and gift certificates that will be used in the ticket auction. And they’re accepting donations for the bake auction. Locally baked pies have been known to fetch $50 at similar events in the past.
The community is also accepting donations for the family, separate from the fundraiser.
“Many of the items being sought have been provided, but they still have clothing needs (except for winter boots), some lamps, dressers, books for the children, cookbooks, and a washer and dryer,” Stultz-Giffin said, adding that items may be left with Melissa Gillis at 2748 Morse Road any time. Or people can call Stultz-Giffin to arrange for pick up or delivery. Rummage sale items for the fundraiser are being welcomed at this spot as well.
Clothing sizes are as follows: Men's pants 38x36, shirts XXL, shoes 13; Ladies tops M/L, pants 6-8, shoes 8-1/2; boys tops XL, M and S, shoes 11 children's, and kids 5 and 8.
“We are welcoming new items as well,” she said. “Items donated for the family that they are unable to use will be repurposed at the rummage sale and all of those funds will be given to the family.”
She said it’s a community known for helping.
“Everyone wanting to do their bit,” she said. “It has been fantastic.”