| Danielle Eaton
CHICOPEE – The community has come together to raise more than $30,000 in less than a week for a nurse and her family, who are currently living in a hotel after a fire broke out at their home.
Caira Mercer said her two children had stayed home while her husband picked her up from Baystate Medical Center on April 20 where she’d been working a 12-hour shift as a nurse. She said her husband was waiting for her when her daughter called to say she’d been frightened by someone knocking at the door. When he checked the home cameras, he saw the fire and was able to tell the children to leave the house.
Fortunately, no one was hurt in the fire, but she said the fire caused significant damage throughout the entire house they’d bought four years ago. She said while “the flames didn’t get past the kitchen and dining room the heat was so intense the blinds across the house melted.” While she and her family will be able to salvage some of their belongings, she said there was quite a bit of smoke damage and their basement had been flooded.
Despite the family facing difficult times, Mercer said she’s been amazed by how the community came together to support them. “Everybody in the community has been amazing. I’ve been crying over everyone who has been helping,” she said.
Mercer said people’s generosity had come in several ways including donations of food, monetary donations, donated clothes, gift cards and other household items. “We’ve already got bags of clothes from someone at work. It’s overwhelming, everyone wants to cook and bring food,” she said.
The community’s generosity has also been shown through a GoFundMe page that was started by Mercer’s assistant manager. “We’re really close at work, we’re like a family,” she said. In just five days, 577 people donated via the GoFundMe, raising a total of $30,200 for the family. Mercer said she’d even received donations from people she didn’t know at all and people she hadn’t talked to in a long time.
“Kids I went to high school with, I haven’t talked to in 20 years. People I don’t even know,” she said. Mercer said a man who owned a restaurant she’d never been to also contributed $1,000. “I don’t know this man at all, I’m not sure I’ve eaten at his restaurant at all,” she said. Mercer said she feels “just so grateful.”
“I’ve had neighbors I’ve never met, a guy heard our story, came and left $50 in my neighbor’s mailbox for me,” she said. “When all this is done, we want to have a huge party and invite everyone. It’s amazing.”
Mercer said she was surprised at how generous everyone was, given a lot of people have fallen on difficult times due to the coronavirus. “I’m so surprised, everyone’s going through a hard time right now,” she said.
Mercer said she’d been out of work for two weeks prior to the pandemic, and was shocked when she returned. “A lot of us are not sleeping because you don't know what you're walking into. It’s our job, we love what we do,” she said. “We didn’t sign up to work a pandemic, but we’re trucking through and supporting each other. We’ll get through it.”
Anyone wishing to donate can do so through the GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/f/mercer-family-fundraiser or through Yankee Home Improvement’s Help A Hero page (https://yankeehomeimprovement.com/help-a-hero/). Mercer said she doesn’t think the family needs much, but if people wanted to help donating money or gift cards would be best.