After a massive fire tore through its offices and thrift store, the West Island Assistance Fund is receiving a helping hand from the community.
The organization launched an emergency toy drive earlier this week for children under the age of six, seeking books, educational games and puzzles.
Generous donors have given nearly 1,000 toys in just over 48 hours since the food bank asked for help in the wake of the fire.
“We cried when we saw the generosity,” said Nathalie Béland, a spokesperson for the organization. “It just didn’t stop.”
A major fire lasted for hours on Monday at the building that houses the West Island Assistance Fund’s administrative offices and thrift store. The fire department fought the blaze, but the building in Pierrefonds-Roxboro is considered to be a total loss.
The organization also lost toys for children, its files and computers. The food bank, which is at a nearby location, remains intact.
The West Island Assistance Fund has set up its makeshift headquarters with the help of the borough so that it can continue working through the busy holiday season.
During the emergency drive, Béland said people showed up in droves with bags of gifts and boxes of toys.
“Some came with 12 gifts at a time,” she said. “It’s remarkable.”
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.
Jim Beis, borough mayor, vowed earlier this week to help the organization to get back on its feet following the fire. The borough is there to help in any way it can, he said.
— With files from Global News’ Brayden Jagger Haines