On Friday afternoon Audra and Hans Barth and their three children were sorting through donations of clothes with friends and neighbors outside the shell of what used to be their cozy little home on Berkshire Road.
That structure was destroyed in a stubborn fire March 27, taking virtually all the family’s possessions, and sadly, the life of their family dog and a number of baby chicks being kept by the Barth children.
But according to Hans Barth, the fire was comparatively insignificant in relation to the events of 12/14, when the couple's two older children were among the students locked down in, and eventually evacuated from, Sandy Hook School.
In the hours since the news of the connection between the fire and 12/14 survivors began making state and national headlines, donations of clothes and offers of assistance have been pouring in. Neighbors Christine Wilford and Patti Lansing have installed themselves as liaisons to the family, and are among a growing network of Newtowners and others far beyond the community looking to help the family.
Mr Barth said he and his family are overwhelmed by the generosity they are seeing from friends and many strangers who were touched by their plight.
“If you’re writing something in The Bee, please tell the community how much we appreciate everything they are doing for us,” Mr Barth said. “The outpouring of love and support is turning this tragedy into a blessing.”
The displaced family is under the care of the Red Cross, which responded immediately with a place for the family to stay, as well as amenities to help them begin their recovery. Mr Barth already confirmed he is planning to rebuild a new home on the site of the fire, because he wants his family to remain in Newtown.
Anyone looking for ways to help should contact either Ms Wilford or Ms Lansing via e-mail, to ensure the specific needs are addressed. Ms Wilford said there is already such a huge volume of clothing donations that she is now looking for large plastic storage bins, but she believes enough of those will be donated soon that she will be asking for other items the family has discovered they need.
There is also an online fundraising site established at www.gofundme.com/2fns60. Gofundme.com takes a five percent processing fee from the top of each donation.
Those who want to make a direct donation to the family without any fees being extracted can do so through St Rose of Lima. Send donations or gift cards to Lansing Family c/o St Rose Church, 46 Church Hill Road, Newtown CT 06470
There is also a donation drop-off box at Newtown Youth Academy,4 Primrose Street.