The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Community comes together to help fire victims

 

February 24, 2018

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe

Richard Jenkins/Daily Globe With the store still closed, Contrast Coffee has a table set up in the corner of Cold Iron Brewing Thursday night to serve as a drop-off spot for donations to help those impacted by Wednesday's fire. While the community has donated enough goods, monetary donations to help the victims are still being accepted.

By RICHARD JENKINS

rjenkins@yourdailyglobe.com

Ironwood - The Gogebic Range is a place where neighbors often help each other, once again demonstrated in the aftermath of Wednesday's fire that left two buildings destroyed, three dead and others homeless.

The fire started in the building at 102 E. Aurora St. in downtown Ironwood - which housed Chelsi's Corner boutique and nine apartment units - and now the building's neighbors are gathering to lead the effort helping those trying to rebuild.

"We really feel lucky ... we escaped with minimal water damage, minimal smoke damage," said Becky Bogaczyk, the manager at Contrast Coffee, at 108 E. Aurora St. "The buildings next to us were not that lucky. So we just want to reach out and help the victims, they are displaced. They have nothing."

Bogaczyk said the coffee shop and Cold Iron Brewing are spearheading the collection effort.

John Garske, one of Cold Iron's owners, praised Contrast for starting the donation process and echoed the importance of helping each other.

"They're our neighbors and we've been talking to them since they've started. We lost some friends in that fire, so it hits home pretty hard," Garske said.

What Bogaczyk said started as an effort to collect toiletries, toys and other goods to replenish the local Red Cross's supply of "comfort kits," is now focused on collecting money to help those impacted by the fire rebuild their lives.

"We have enough stuff, but what we really need now (are monetary donations)," she said. "If you were going to buy some things, just bring that money here so it can go directly to the victims."

Bogaczyk said a fund called the Downtown Ironwood Victims Fund has been set up at Wells Fargo where people can donate money.

"Anybody can go to the bank, they don't have to come here. They can go right to the bank and do that," she said.

Donations can be made at Wells Fargo locations around the country, according to Bogaczyk, given the amount of people following the story of the fire from outside the area.

"Facebook is just reaching many people," Bogaczyk said. "I'm just surprised how far reaching people are concerned about Ironwood."

Donations can also be made at Contrast's other Upper Peninsula locations, the Ironwood Chamber of Commerce, Cold Iron Brewing and at gofundme.com/downtown-ironwood-fire-relief-fund; according to a post on the coffee shop's Facebook page.

Bogaczyk said the effort also continues Contrast's role as a community gathering spot, helping the community come together to support each other.

"I see that in Ironwood and the surrounding areas all the time. It's so great to be from a small town where whenever there is a need people just help, you barely have to ask," she said. "It's overwhelming, the generosity of the people in the area."

So far the community seems to have responded.

"They've got so much stuff here it's amazing," Garske said, referring to the donated items dropped off at the brewery. "We live in a great community."

Despite the proximity of the two businesses to the fire, neither sustained much damage.

Bogaczyk said the coffee shop hopes to re-open in the coming weeks, and the brewery was only closed for a day because of the city's discolored water.

"(There was) no smoke damage, it all kind of billowed up and went right away from us," Garske said. "Thankfully, we were one of the lucky ones - which is another reason we're helping out."

 
 

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