Paying it forward to help York fire victims

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YORK, Pa. -- A York County woman whose family survived a house fire is paying it forward to help other families in a similar situation.

Nearly two dozen people displaced by a fire on East Maple Street in York City continue to rebuild their lives, many losing practically everything they owned.

Angie Anderson is quite modest, and said this story is not about her, but her act of kindness has also inspired others to help and give back to the community.

"It made me cry, and then you can feel the burn. Everything is smokey. It permeates everything, the neighborhood.  After almost a week, it's still smells like smoke," Anderson said.

A fire reduced several houses on East Maple Street in York, to a shell. Many of the neighbors may be gone from their homes, but they're not forgotten.

"I had a fire in my home, when my children were small, and I decided that maybe I could pay it forward here, for all the people who helped me when my house had a smoke fire. Nothing like this," Anderson said.

Anderson posted her inspiration on Facebook and has received dozens of donations for people who lost their possessions to smoke or fire.

"My colleagues at Memorial Hospital just gave me formula, baby blankets, WellSpan took care of a pack-and-play for one of the families that has a child who lost her crib," Anderson said.

Some residents may need more than food and clothing to recover from a disaster at home.

"People who need cleaning supplies, some of the people's whose homes will still be standing, they need to clean their homes. They have water damage, and it smells bad," Anderson said.

Neighbor Abu Samia said "you find a lot of people who talk about our community, or what you want to call a.k.a. the ghetto, and they don't really come down here and try to help us.  But we have this woman in the rain, and off of work, coming down here trying to help people rebuild and try to get comfortable."

While Anderson doesn't it live in York City, rather Spring Garden Township, that fact hasn't stopped her from helping out the people on this street.

"It's really wonderful, how the community pulls together, when there's a tragedy like this. Nobody knows anybody, and now we're all going to be neighbors of a different kind," Anderson said.

Anderson put together a spreadsheet so she could keep track of who was affected and who needs what.

At the moment she's waiting to take more donations, until she can follow up with everyone and find out what they need next, such as furniture.