BROADALBIN - Sandra Moore was driving down County Road 107 on Dec. 5 when she saw a fire at a residence. A week later, she's arranging a benefit for the residents of the house.
The fire severely damaged the house, leaving it uninhabitable.
No one was injured in the fire, but it displaced the four people living there: Jim and Cheryl Galarneau; their son, Jacob; and Cheryl's mother, Sharon Robinson.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
Jim Galarneau points out damage in his kitchen after a Dec. 5 fire at the house on County Highway 107 in Broadalbin.
Members of the community are coming to the family's aid in the days leading up to Christmas.
"At the fire, I thought this is a terrible time of the year for this to happen," said Moore, who had not yet met the family as of this morning. "I thought if this were my family, I would hope people would pull together and help. We just have to pull together as a community and help them through these rough times."
Moore is coordinating a benefit for the family Dec. 21 at the Broadalbin Hotel. It will take place from 6 to 11 p.m. Activities will include a visit from Santa, basket raffles, food, face painting and music with DJ Ritchie.
Since the fire broke out at their home, the Galarneau family has been staying at a neighbor's house on Midline Road and the Johnstown Holiday Inn.
The family lost many of their possessions.
Cheryl Galarneau said she's appreciative of the community's support.
"They are wonderful. That's why we love our small town. It just seems like everybody has come together and wants to be a part of our lives. I know there are people who don't even know us that have reached out to us," she said.
Rosemary Smith is among those helping. She is the organizer of host families for the Amsterdam Mohawks. These families, including the Galarneaus, host players who come to the area from their colleges to play for the Mohawks during baseball season.
Smith has contacted Mohawks fans to ask them to help the Galarneaus.
She also is helping to get the word out about the Dec. 21 benefit at the Broadalbin Hotel.
"We all sit together [at games] and become friends," Smith said. "I've had quite a few emails from some of the other host families saying they would attend the event. They're great people. We're just trying to help them out. It's really a tragedy, especially at this time of the year."
Jim Galarneau said his wife has taken 500 calls since the fire from people interested in helping them.
He expressed gratitude for Jay and Christine Holz - their Midline Road neighbors - for offering them a place to stay immediately after the fire.
"We had friends put us up for a couple of days," Jim Galarneau said. "Everyone's been tremendously supportive. It's unbelievable. I know how the economy is and the high prices and gas [prices], and people are still able to donate."
Jim said the most important thing is finding a temporary place of their own to live in before Christmas.
"My wife and I will be OK, but for my son, it's really traumatic," he said. "We're trying to find a place so we can at least get a tree up for him ... I don't care about anything else, just as long as he has a tree for Christmas."
The family will fix their damaged house, but Jim Galarneau said it won't be ready for another nine or 10 months.
The fire at 2141 County Road 107 caused extensive damage to the attached two-car garage and extensive smoke and water damage to the rest of the house. The cause of the fire has not yet been determined, Cheryl Galarneau said.
John Borgolini can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.