In the early morning hours of June 2, the Millville and Bethany Beach fire companies responded to a house fire in Murray Estates in Ocean View. The fire grew through the roof of the two-story house before it could be extinguished.
Having heard about the fire through a Facebook group, Kathy Jacobs, director of community relations at Brandywine Senior Living at Fenwick Island, jumped at the chance to help.
“Somebody posted on there, while it was happening, a picture of the fire and said, ‘Wow! This is in Murray Estates. I hope everyone got out OK,’” recalled Jacobs. “I just responded, ‘They’re going to need help, whoever this family is. If anybody knows who the family is, please get in touch with me so we can get them whatever they need.’ For all I knew at the time, it could have been a family with children in the home.”
Through the group, Jacobs learned that the home belonged to Bonnie Cooper, who had escaped injury, as she was staying at her mother’s home across the street when the fire occurred.
Jacobs was able to contact the family and get permission to collect donations to be given to Cooper.
“I have a friend who went through this a year ago. Insurance companies do pay — it just takes some time,” she said. “But you just wake up with the clothes you have on. You don’t have underwear, you don’t have shoes, you don’t have socks.
“That’s my passion — backyard fundraising, if you will; grassroots, rather than national companies. When I heard of this, I knew I wanted to help. I didn’t know who they were, but I knew they would certainly need something.”
Jacobs said she doesn’t know what caused the fire, but does know that Cooper is in need of support.
“I do know this. Bonnie lives across the street from her mom, Mrs. Murray — she’s 93. Bonnie and her sisters, Ellen Magee of Magee Farms and Shirley Price, all take turns sleeping at mom’s house to take care of her.
“It was Bonnie’e turn to sleep at mom’s house. So she was at her mom’s, taking care of her, when her house across the street caught on fire.”
Through Sunday, June 7, Jacobs will be collecting gift cards and checks payable to Cooper, which may be dropped off at Brandywine between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. No clothing or household items will be accepted.
“People say, ‘What size is she? We’ll donate some clothes.’ I don’t want somebody else’s clothes just because my house burned down. That’s my thought process, anyway. My reasoning for doing the gift cards and checks is for her to meet her immediate needs. Let her go and buy what she needs now, until she gets that insurance money,” she said. “Whatever I get on a daily basis, I’m not holding until the end to give to her. She will get real-time every day, so that she can get what she needs.”
Since the fire, community members have already shown their support by giving donations.
“I had people drop off yesterday,” she said. “Some of the real estate companies pitched in as an office and dropped off, and some families dropped off.”
Jacobs said this is a wonderful and giving community, and currently Cooper could use all the help it can offer.
“It is a great community here. People really do rally. People always ask, ‘Let me know how can I help.’ Well, this is how you can help.”
Brandywine Senior Living at Fenwick Island is located at 21111 Arrington Drive in Selbyville (West Fenwick), at the corner of Routes 54 and 20. Their phone number is (302) 436-0808.