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Funds Raised for Commons Worker

A devastating fire destroyed the home of Paresky Commons staff member Deyanira “Bola” Espinoza, prompting fundraisers by Andover students and faculty this past weekend. The fire started after a six-year-old boy, who did not live in Espinoza’s house or the neighborhood, started playing with matches and accidentally set a bunk bed mattress on fire. The fire spread and burned down Espinoza’s home. At the time of the fire, Espinoza had taken her four children to a nearby park. No one in Espinoza’s family was injured. Members of the two other families that share the triple-decker building are also not injured. After hearing about the fire, Espinoza said, “I didn’t know what to do at that time. I was going crazy, because even my mom wasn’t there, so I didn’t have a place to stay. The first thing I did was go to my friend’s house, and I brought my children there.” So far students have raised over $1000 through the various fundraisers. Espinoza, a cook at Paresky Commons since November 2009, said, “I want to say thank you very much to all the students [that have collected donations and fundraised], to their families, to this school. You’ve all been very, very, very helpful.” After hearing about the fire late Monday night, Jackie Wallace ’10 began organizing students to help fundraise for the family. She contacted officials around campus and secured donations from all events that happened this past weekend and the upcoming weekend. Indopak, WPAA, Under the Bed, Hypnotic and Blue Strut allowed students to ask attendees to their shows for donations. Cindy Efinger, Director of Student Activities, has donated drinks for the students to sell at the upcoming Spring Carnival. Wallace is also organizing collections within dorms. Funds collected by students on campus will go toward purchasing furniture for Espinoza. Espinoza said her other primary need is clothing, since all of her children’s clothing and possessions were destroyed in the fire. Espinoza has requested clothing donations for her four children: a 14-year-old girl, a 10-year-old girl, a six-year-old girl and a five-year-old boy. Wallace said Espinoza’s secondary needs include pots and pans, toiletries, a microwave and other necessities. “She can’t carry around much, but if she just has a box of silverware, pots, pans and maybe a microwave, that would be really helpful,” said Wallace. The funds may also help the family pay for a down payment on a home, rent a new house or fund a temporary stay at a motel. From collecting donations at Andover Night Live, Battle of the Bands and the Blue Strut/Hypnotic Show, students raised almost $700 on Saturday night. Under the Bed charged $3 per ticket, and Wallace said they contributed the majority of the funds collected on Saturday. Wallace said, “We set up stations at the different events and ‘cornered’ people in the lines and ask[ed] them for a dollar. I was actually pretty impressed that students were giving even more, up to twenty dollars. I think that really shows appreciation and [that] they care.” Indo-Pak sold ice cream, henna tattoos and T-shirts at their Spring Festival, raising $117 to contribute to the cause. Zahra Bhaiwala ’10 said, “Usually the Spring Festival isn’t really about making money, what ever we make we usually keep for the club, so it was nice to contribute to a really worthy cause.” Students asked faculty members and other students waiting in line for the Blue Strut and Hypnotic show for money. Donations from the dance performance and the Battle of the Bands sponsored by WPAA totaled about $250. Sarah Stevens ’11, WPAA’s Head of Publicity, said “We’re glad that [Wallace] saw our event as a place where a bunch of people would gather, that was a compliment. And we were happy to bring people together to give them an opportunity to find out more about the cause.” Mike Giampa, Food Service Director at Paresky Commons, said staff members at Commons have also created a fund to help support Espinoza. “We always try to find a way to support any member of our team whenever they have a problem,” Giampa said. Anyone who wishes to donate can contact Jackie Wallace at jwallace@andover.edu.