Fundraiser raises spirits, money for Brookline's Bingham Lumber, which burned
More than 200 members of the community turned out for a fundraising event organized by the Brookline Fire Department and held at the VFW in Pepperell, Mass., on Friday night. Though organizer Sheryl Corey wouldn't say how much money was raised on behalf of Tom and Rebekah Bingham, she said the sheer number of donations for the silent auction and raffle was staggering.
"It was overwhelming the number of people, both in town and out of town, who made donations," said Corey, the wife of Fire Chief Charles Corey. "It took us 45 minutes to an hour just to call all the raffle winners."
Sherly Corey said reaching out to help the Binghams was an easy decision to make because the couple gives a great deal back to the town.
"They're a nice family, nice people to work for, and they contribute a lot to the town," said Corey. "They've always been very good to the fire department."
The blaze at Bingham Lumber struck Nov. 2, destroying the main building that housed the offices, a showroom, a warehouse and a staining and refinishing shop.
But in the last month, with the help of dozens of local contractors and tradespeople, another building on the property has been retrofitted to serve as the company's headquarters, said Tom Bingham.
"We have a new well, a new septic, and a brand new office in under a month," said Tom Bingham. "It's amazing how these local people and our own employees have come together to help us."
Before Christmas, the concrete should be poured on the new building that will once again feature the offices and showroom, as well as a warehouse. The goal is to have the new building open for business in time for the busy spring season, said Bingham.
Rebekah Bingham said there was a brief moment on the night of the fire when she thought maybe it was time to throw in the towel and let Bingham Lumber go. After three tough years in a bad economy, arriving at the scene of the fire and watching their hard work go up in flames, Bingham said she wondered if it was a sign to move on.
"But then all of these people starting showing up, offering support, even bringing us food. We had calls and emails from lots of people we knew, but also from people we didn't know. People really made us feel that what we were doing was important for the community," said Bingham. "And my sign went from this is over to we really have something of value here."
The last month has been a whirlwind for the Binghams that started with the fire and hasn't let up since. Friday's fundraiser was the first time since the fire that the couple was able to stop, relax, and enjoy their friends and family without having to think about business.
"It was a much-needed break," said Tom Bingham, but on Sunday afternoon, the couple was back in the office with their two children and their dog, Hadley, who was rescued from the blaze.
"After three years of negative stuff, this has really been a positive experience seeing everybody come together to support us," said Tom Bingham.
"It renews your faith in community and in small town America," Rebekah Bingham said. "It's been amazing."