VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Neighbors and even strangers showed their support Wednesday night for a dozen families displaced by a massive condo fire near the Oceanfront.
Investigators say the fire at Summer’s Point Condominiums in the Shadow Lawn neighborhood affected 17 people and destroyed six units.
Less than a week later, the Icehouse Restaurant on Norfolk Avenue decided to donate a portion of their sales to the fire victims. The owners tell 10 On Your Side they will donate 10 percent of what they earned from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m.
“It’s kind of nice to know that we are giving back and helping out community,” said Michaela Bowling, a waitress who stayed busy during the donation time frame.
The fundraiser was organized by Jane Helgeson with the support of her employer Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group. Helgeson says she lives near the condos and heard the explosion. She started thinking of ways to help the victims the next day.
“Our little beach community is a very strong one,” said Helgeson. “I just really hope these families get placed somewhere and can recover from the shock of the fire.”
Shaleen Fischetti says the blaze started near her back porch. She emptied one fire extinguisher before deciding to run to safety.
“The flames were just reaching so high above to the second deck and at that moment that’s when I was just more concerned about making sure my daughter and my neighbor were out of the house,” said Fischetti. “There was a loud boom. The windows exploded, and that’s all I can really remember. I didn’t even have shoes on my feet.”
Fischetti says she and her neighbors lost most of their belongings, but after the fire she was able to salvage her marriage certificate and her child’s social security card and birth certificate.
“It’s really strange how the fire picks and chooses what it devours,” she said, surrounded by supportive neighbors and friends at the Icehouse Restaurant.
The Shadow Lawn Church, close by on Norfolk Avenue, also joined the effort by serving as a drop-off location for clothes, furniture and other donations. Church leaders say they’ll continue to do so for the remainder of the week.
“We looked at it as a blessing to be able to help these families,” said Pastor Darren Keithley. “It’s one of the greatest commandments: Love your neighbor.”
The church is taking any and all donations. They say they don’t have a list of ages, sizes and needs, but they’re hoping the victims will contact them.
“There’s always going to be a time when someone is in need and we need to be able to look to our neighbors to help us,” said Amy Keithley.
Those who wish to donate items can drop them off at the church or call them at 757-428-4776.
“The community has come together,” said Mike Fischetti. “I don’t think I’ve ever experienced so much support.”