The West Island Assistance Fund is picking up the pieces and assessing the damage after flames ripped through the building that housed its administrative offices and thrift store.
“It’s a bit of a shock, but now we have to move on,” said Michael Labelle, president of the organization’s board of directors.
The food bank serves more than 650 low-income and vulnerable families in the area. As part of its services, it also offers household items, clothing and other support.
The major fire lasted for hours on Monday, requiring more than 150 firefighters to put out the flames. The fire was finally extinguished late in the evening.
The building is considered to be a total loss, according to Labelle. The organization also lost toys for children, its files and computers.
“The bad news is a big source of our operating income has been lost, and now we have to figure that out,” said Labelle. “But it’s one day at a time.”
The West Island Assistance Fund’s food bank, which is at a nearby location, remains intact. Labelle said there is no doubt the organization will be able to handle Christmas baskets, and it does not require extra food donations at the moment.
However, there is an emergency toy drive underway for children under the age of six. The food bank is seeking books, educational games, puzzles, crayons, crafts and Lego toys.
The Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough and Partage-Action are lending a helping hand following the fire. They are collaborating to come up with a plan to replace the toys that were lost and get the organization through the busy holiday season.
The West Island Assistance Fund is also being given space at the Gerry-Robertson Community Centre from the borough for their offices.
Jim Beis, borough mayor, said the incident not only leads to stress and anxiety for the organization but also for the families who depend on its services.
“We are there to try and help them in any way they can,” he said.
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines and Brittany Henriques