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2021 News Stories

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Card of Thanks


Community pitches in for victims of house fire

By JURI LOVE For The Foxboro Reporter December 23, 2021

Thousands of dollars have been raised along with gift cards and donations for the victims of a devastating house fire on Central Street last Wednesday.

The fire at 91 Central St., coming just 10 days before Christmas, displaced six families.

It didn’t take long for the Foxboro Jaycees to organize a gift card collection which has generated a generous response from residents and others, organizers said.

Foxboro Jaycees asked for donations of gift cards from local businesses, restaurants, Kohl’s, Target, CVS, Walmart, Stop & Shop, and Shaw’s or Visa cards.

Amy LaBrache, Membership VP of Foxboro Jaycees found out about the fire through Facebook.

“I was absolutely devastated for these families,” LaBrache said.

“Our town is one that takes care of each other so when a tragedy like this happens, it affects us all, and the intense need to do something kicks into action,” she said.

“We all started brainstorming how we could help as soon as the news broke out. Some of us even went up to the Senior Center (where residents were taken following the fire) to offer our support and just to let them know that we were there for them. As a board we discussed and it became a no-brainer that we needed to help these people,” LaBrache said.

Colby Barrows, agency manager at Barrows Insurance on Center Street in Foxboro, which was the donation drop-off site, said seeing the pile of gift cards donated to the victims of the fire is overwhelming and it is a great thing to see the community rally around the families.

He said the generosity of the community has been amazing.

“Just seeing that our door hasn’t closed all day, yesterday and today. People coming in and staring at the pile of gift cards here, it’s overwhelming. We’re just happy to be a part of it,” Barrows said Friday afternoon.

He feels the Christmas spirit with everybody in the community rallying around the people that lost so many things.

“It’s never easy to have a fire in your home but this time of year it’s worse, losing Christmas gifts and memories that you could have made in the home that you can’t make anymore due to the fire,” Barrows said.

Eric Montague, a North Attleboro resident who stopped by to drop off a gift card, read about the fire in The Sun Chronicle in the morning and decided to make a donation.

He said his son had a fire in his apartment 1 1/2 years ago, so it was his way of paying it forward.

“I felt like it was something my son experienced so I wanted to pay it forward to someone else,” Montague said.

Caitlin Barrows at Barrows Insurance said in the last two days they have had close to 100 people come in with gift cards.

“Our door has been revolving the whole time and it’s been awesome,” she said.

LaBrache from the Jaycees said this drive has raised many thousands of dollars for the displaced families. Gift cards have been distributed to help with their immediate needs since the day the drive started.

“This town is unbelievable. The amount of support and willingness to give has been amazing. Our phones have been ringing off the hook from people, organizations, and businesses wanting to help. We have also received donations outside of Foxboro. We are very grateful to everyone who has donated,” LaBrache said.

Cheryl Hixon, one of the directors of Foxboro Food Pantry said they have also donated the food to the families in coordination with Foxboro Senior Center. Hixon said last Thursday, one of the staff from the senior center came to pick food up from the pantry and dropped it off to the families.

Winners of Christmas house lighting contest say it adds spirit, joy to neighborhoods, town

By JURI LOVE For The Foxboro Reporter
Decorating your house for the holidays can get serious when there is a competition involved.

Some families did just that, all in good spirit, entering the 2nd annual Foxboro Jaycees lights contest.

“We want to celebrate the light people are bringing into our lives with these beautiful holiday light displays. Each winning house was notified via email and received a $25 Stop & Shop gift card from the Jaycees,” Bob Gillis, Foxboro Jaycees member who co-chaired the event with another Jaycees member Pam Warren this year, said in announcing the winners.

The winner and name in each category are:

“Bing Crosby” Award: Collins family on James Street.
“Martha Stewart” Award: Ferraro family on Fairway Lane.
“Over the Rainbow” Award: Fiumara family on Samson Road.
“Toy Land” award: Geaudreau family on Beach Street.
The WOW Factor” and “The People’s Choice Award: Silva family on Mcnamara Way.
“Clark Griswold” / “Friend of the Electric Company” Award: Donaway family on South Street.
“Miracle on 34th Street” (Business) Award: Barrows Insurance
Joe and Kristen Fiumara who have lived in Foxboro since 2008, received the “Over the Rainbow” award.

Joe said they have been decorating the house since the first December that they moved in. They decided to join the contest because he loved the idea and hoped it would get more friends around town to light up Foxboro with their competitive juices.

The couple participated last year but, unfortunately, they did not win.

“I think I was placed in the wrong category,” Joe said.

At first, he did it for their children Peter, now 17, Nicholas 14, and Jake 11, because they would light up every night to see the display.

Now he says he does it for the new generation of young kids in the neighborhood like the Whites, Kolodny’s, and the Macri’s.

“Maybe because I channel my inner Clark W. Griswald as well. I think this idea by the Jaycees is fantastic. It creates a Christmas spirit amongst neighbors and friends,” Joe said.

He thinks there are enough people that would like to see a Halloween contest as well and he said he would be happy to pay to submit for these contests to donate to the local food bank.

Jan Donaway, who received the “Clark Griswold”/”Friend of the Electric Company” award, has lived in Foxboro since 1980.

“I have decorated all 28 years. I worked at Sunlight Farm for 20 years and we would open for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving so my lights were always done and lit Thanksgiving night.”

She said last year a Jaycee member stopped at her house and said: “Are you in the contest?” and Jan said: “What contest?”

So she decided to enter this year.

“I love to decorate for all holidays, especially Christmas. It makes me happy and I have had so many nice comments, so if I can make someone else happy that is my goal,” Jan said.

She now has a 2-year-old grandson and she said he loves the lights.

“I think it is a fun contest and I wish more people entered. There are many nice displays in town.”

Kenny and Meg Collins, who received the “Bing Crosby” award, had lived in Foxboro for the past 18 years. They have four children, Annie, 14; Mary, 15; Jack, 16, and Kate, 17.

“We have always decorated our house but added to the collection the past few years. The elves, the Dicken’s Carolers, and most of the blow molds were at my parent’s house in Walpole for 50 years,” Kenny said.

He said his parents made the elves, one to represent each family member and one cousin as he is one of 8 children. He said every year they decorated the yard and roof.

“I finally convinced my father to give them all to me and we love continuing the tradition in Foxboro. When I saw the contest last year, I knew I had the perfect ‘old school’ set and thought it would be a great way to honor my family,” Clooins said.

They have won the “Bing Crosby” award two years in a row.

“Meg and I both grew up celebrating Christmas which was such an important part of our upbringing and we have brought those traditions and created our family traditions, “Collins said. “We are thrilled that the Jaycees run this competition as it is awesome to see all the cars drive by to see the yard lit up.”

Their daughter, Mary, 15 said she is excited about her family’s win.

“I know especially my dad works really hard putting up all the decorations and it’s funny because they are really old and I know that they used to be my grandfather’s so they’re being passed down, so that just makes it even cooler,” she said.

Collins decided to donate his gift card.

“I donated the card to a food drive for those in need organized by Deacon Paul in South Boston,” Kenny said.

Gillis extended his gratitude on behalf of the Jaycees.

“We would like to thank everyone who entered, and also everyone else who also decorated their homes. There are a lot of beautiful displays in Foxboro and you make the darker days of winter (and 2021) so much brighter with your light displays, big and small.”

This display at the Fiumara family home on Samson Road won the “Over the Rainbow” Award
This display at the Fiumara family home on Samson Road won the “Over the Rainbow” Award (Photo by Juri Love)
he Collins' family outside their James Street home
he Collins’ family outside their James Street home. (Photo by Juri Love)
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