DRACUT — A few weeks ago, Caroline Zuk of Saja Farm received a call from her sister about a series of gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Zuk recalled saying.
In shock, Zuk began reaching out to other community activists to find out what they knew, and also contacted Town Manager Jim Duggan. She wondered aloud if this could also happen in Dracut.
The following morning, Zuk said she woke up around 4 a.m. to check on the farm and stumbled on a trashbag filled with clothes and a case of bottled water.
“I said, ‘Oh my, they remember when I collected donations for the hurricane,'” Zuk said.
And so began a town-wide effort to collect items for those displaced by the gas explosions in Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover.
Dracut residents and local organizations including Dracut Volunteers, Inc. and End 68 Hours of Hunger have teamed up to gather donations that range from baby diapers to clothes to canned goods and water.
“It came as somewhat of a surprise, but at the same time I feel good that we are working towards the common good. It didn’t happen in Dracut, but we’re feeling the pain,” Zuk said. “To see community coming together, that’s what it’s all about. With all the bad headlines we see in the news everyday, maybe now we can have a few good ones.”
Zuk said she called Josh Taylor, a Dracut resident and president of the Centralville Sportmen’s Club, who offered her the club’s bus to transport the items to the Lawrence Senior Center, one of the central locations where donations have poured in since last week’s tragedy struck. Taylor said he also reached out to his own members for support and additional donations.
“It’s great,” Taylor said. “It’s a lot better effort when you have multiple groups doing something than any one.”
As of last Tuesday, Taylor said he’s traveled three times to Lawrence to drop off items.
Jessica Maille, a Dracut resident and teacher at the Thomson School in North Andover, spent three days after the gas explosions collecting food, toys, clothing, blankets and more for affected families. She said others helped, including members of Christ Church United with donations.
“I am impressed and astounded by how much my community pulled together to help others in their time of need,” Maille wrote in an email last week to a Sun reporter.
St. Francis Parish in Dracut last week ran a grocery store gift card drive for Lawrence, Andover, and North Andover. According to the parish’s communications coordinator Debbie Hovanasian, the church received the bulk of nearly $2,400 in gift cards and another $1,000 in cash/checks by last Sunday morning’s Masses. In an email last Tuesday, Hovanasian said the funds will be directed toward Cor Unum Meal Center, a Catholic organization helping in the recovery in Lawrence.
Follow Amaris Castillo on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.