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UPDATE: Fund Set Up for Garwood Family Who Lost Everything in Fire, New List of Needs

A Wednesday morning blaze at 304 Center Street in Garwood has devastated the family of seven who rented there.

Update, Nov. 16

The DiIorio family is overwhelmed by the response from Patch readers who have offered donations and help in the wake of the fire that left them homeless.

"The family is quite overwhelmed and grateful and thankful for the community’s support," says Jen McCusker, a volunteer with the Salvation Army who has been helping coordinate donations. "We've had at least 75 people offer donations. It’s been an overwhelming response. One woman from Garwood even offered to have the whole family for Thanksgiving and take the kids for a playdate with her kids. It's amazing."

The family's search for permanent housing continues, but in the meantime the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have paid for them to stay for a few days at the Kenilworth Inn.

Several people have also offered to donate furniture, but the DiIorio's had nowhere to store it at first. Patch reached out to Access Self-Storage in Clark and they have generously offered the family three months storage.

Marilyn Tammaro, who began the call for help for the family, has now set up a fund for donations at TD Bank. Donations can be mailed or dropped off to Tammaro's home at 129 Myrtle Avenue in Westfield and made out to "The DiIorio Family Fire Fund."

McCusker says with the donations they've received they have lots of clothes and even toys for their children, and could now use the following:

-gift cards, gas cards (they now have a rental car), grocery store cards

-nonfrozen microwaveable foods (they have access to a microwave at the Kenilworth Inn)

-a fold-out pen for the puppies

-dog food (Taste of the Wild dry food and Cesar wet food)

To donate or if you have information on available housing, please call Tammaro at 908-577-1997.

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Update, Nov. 15

The Garwood Knights of Columbus is also collection donations for the DiIorio family. See below:

"On November 14th, seven people including 3 children under the age of seven lost their house in a 2 family house fire in Garwood. They escaped unharmed, but lost all their possesions, and the house was destroyed.   On behalf of the families, the Garwood Knights of Columbus are collecting only the following items. Canned & dry food goods, toiletries, cleaning supplies, diapers, paper products, and supermarket gift cards. No clothes are being accepted through our organization. Monetary donations make payable to "The Garwood KofC Family House Fire Fund", att Keith Gallagher. Presently we have a few emergency fundraisers ongoing, please mark your checks accordingly.   Donations can be dropped off weekdays after 4:00pm at the Knights Hall, 37 South Ave. Garwood. (Opposite PathMark). Parking available behind the building off Willow Ave.(Turn at Marty Shoes) Please use side door entrance. Weekends please call first. For info, call the Knights after 4:00pm weekdays at 908-789-9809 or Keith Gallagher at 908-789-0931."

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Original Story

The fire in the rear of a two-family home at 304 Center Street in Garwood that quickly turned into a three-alarm blaze Wednesday morning, has left the family of seven who rented there with nothing in its wake. (Read our story on the fire, here.)

"We are in shock," resident Antoinette DiIorio told Patch. "We aren't sure how it started, but my future daughter-in-law saw a flame outside. We grabbed the kids and the dogs and left without even shoes or socks on. We left everything. It was pure adrenaline."

Family friend Marilyn Tammaro is collecting donations and searching for temporary housing for the family of seven – mother Antoinette; her daughter Tanya Chciuk and Tanya's son Nicholas, 3; her son Nato Riga and his fiance Crystal Palmieri, and their two children, Elizabeth, 7, and Gregory, 2; plus two dogs and seven American Staffordshire terrier puppies.

"They are a wonderful family, a very close-knit family and they are just devastated," Tammaro told Patch. "The home is going to need to be torn down and rebuilt. They've lost all their possessions."

The family's most urgent need is a place to live. They are searching for preferably a pet-friendly home that has at least three bedrooms. They hope to remain in or near Garwood, Cranford, Westfield, Clark or Scotch Plains as Antoinette cares for her elderly parents in Westfield.

"My mother and father live in senior building in Westfield, a very small one-bedroom and there's no room for us," said DiIorio, who is originally from Westfield but has lived on Center Street for the past two years.

DiIorio said the home is so demolished that the family will not even be able to enter to salvage any belongings. They've also lost her daughter Tanya's truck, which was parked next to the house and exploded in the fire.

Tammaro, also a Westfield resident, says she has been going door-to-door to her neighbors to collect clothes and they have been very generous, but she is having a hard time finding the following:

Shoes - women's sizes 7 and 8, men's size 7.5, boy's children sizes 9 and 6, girl's youth size 1.

Men's clothes and sweats - size medium, size 34 in pants/jeans

She is also collecting:

Boys' clothes - toddler sizes 2 and 3

Girls' clothes - size 8

Women's clothes and sweats - sizes small and medium 

"I am so thankful for the people who have offered to help us," says DiIorio. "I always knew people were kind, but there's just no words...."

To donate or if you have information on available housing, please call Tammaro at 908-577-1997.

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