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.


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."


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.

Michelle Wiecek November 15, 2012 at 03:36 PM
My family would like to offer to host this entire family at our Garwood home for Thanksgiving... We are family of four; including myself, my husband, our two year old son and our 13 year old dog. How can we reach them? I can be reached through Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/home.php#!/michelle.gouldenwiecek
marge petrow November 15, 2012 at 04:38 PM
I'm so sorry for the loss of your home.However 7 pitbull pups? really? Please get the parents s/n. Shelters and rescues are filled with pitties with no place to go & your breeding dogs to sell.
JERSEY GIRL November 15, 2012 at 05:19 PM
wow! not much compassion here!
ms. compassion November 15, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Hey Marge...Can you focus on what just happened...? dogs are so minor in this equation.....THEY LOST EVERYTHING...................! WALKED AWAY WITH THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACK...! god forbid MARGE, something were to go heywire in your life....God watches out for all...BAD OR GOOD MARGE..............! just sayin....
michael November 15, 2012 at 11:36 PM
The Community Foodbank in Hillside works with families like this. They have some furniture, clothes, school supplies, etc. http://www.njfoodbank.org/ . There is another agency in Union(?) that might be of more help with furniture. The Foodbank people would know the name.
Len Glassman November 16, 2012 at 12:51 AM
We have a plastic bag full of assorted clothing & a box of body wash if that helps. Please stop by our facility - Personal Brst Fitness Center in downtown Garwood for pickup. it would be our pleasure to help. Len Glassman
Kassandra November 16, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Seriously? A family just lost their home and all of their belongings and yet people are complaining about the dogs?! Can you take a step back and look at how ignorant you are acting? If you aren't going to offer any support or kind words then why comment at all? Your unnecessary words about the dogs is the last thing the family wants to hear and see. This is MY family that this happened to and I'm actually fairly heated to see the replies that are only mentioning the dogs and spaying/neutering them when there is a much larger situation at hand. Like I said, if you're not going to offer kindness and support, then go elsewhere and don't post. It just makes you look like jerks while my cousins are without a home and living off of donations.
Kassandra November 16, 2012 at 02:54 AM
As for those of you offering help, thank you. It's much appreciated. I will tell my cousin :)
Julia November 16, 2012 at 03:44 AM
Yes, I am worried about the dogs. Of course we will help the people, they are my neighbors. However when you read that there are 2 adults and 7 pups of dogs that are killed in the hundreds each day in shelters we want to help the dogs as well. We will offer food and whatever they need for themselves. BUT.. we want to focus on the pets too. Many people will offer the help the humans, most times the pets are a last thought. We are just saying we see the "ENTIRE" family in need. Where are the animals? We have many people willing to donate food to them and other pet related items. Tks
lisa barretta November 16, 2012 at 05:01 AM
I love in Garwood. I can help. Can i take the shopping at a consignment shop. My treat? Can i just the mother and the puppies? email me lrbarretta@gmail.com. Lisa
lisa barretta November 16, 2012 at 05:02 AM
sorry for typos.... i will do whatever i can. my mom live s in Westfield housing. Sh ca look in on the parents.
Julia November 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
We have a temp home for the dogs if need be too. Where are they all staying now if they have no family?
Julia November 16, 2012 at 01:31 PM
No family available to take them in that is..
Kassandra November 16, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Yes, I know dogs are important. I'm a dog lover and have one of my own; however, I feel that there are more important matters than spaying/neutering dogs at the present time. They're living in a hotel for now.
Dina November 16, 2012 at 04:37 PM
Hi Barbra yes you can send donations to The DiIorio Family Fire Fund c/o Marilyn Tammaro 129 Myrtle Ave Westfield,NJ 07090. Thank you so much.
lisa barretta November 17, 2012 at 04:28 AM
I posted above... from my phone... so sorry for all the typos. I am happy to do what I can. Is there something specific I can do? Can I house the dogs? My mom is at senior housing... can she help take care of the family member there? Can I go shopping for clothes? lrbarretta@gmail.com
fortunato riga November 17, 2012 at 05:41 PM
my name is nato my house had the fire yea my dog had puppies and they are being well taking care of i want to thank all the people who are helping us and even the people who r being jerks thanks for ur caring but the dog had puppies accidentaly and got those who are worried about the dogs friends of mine sre helping all im worried is we all got out safe and we are gonna do our best to make sure the kids are ok thanks for all the love from my family
Jennifer Lee November 17, 2012 at 06:44 PM
There is a fund set up for the family. All gift card and monetary donations can be mailed to or dropped off at 129 Myrtle Ave in Westfield. Please put them to the attention of Marilyn Tammaro.
Jennifer Lee November 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM
Len, Thank you for your generosity! If it is still available please feel free to give Marilyn a call at 908-577-1997
Lorraine E. Bender November 17, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Hi, I have alot of clothes that are new and almost new u r welcome to anything you can use. Books, toys and bookbags also lunch bags for the children, please call me. also have shoes they are packed away so let me know and I will get them into arms reach. Things can be replaced! Thank God you and your dogs are safe. 908-789-0143 I am only blocks away.
Tonya chciuk November 18, 2012 at 12:48 AM
My name is Tanya it was my mother brother and our children that lost our home and every thing we own. We would like to thank everyone for their generosity. The dogs and puppies are safe and comfortable for now. For donation information please contact Marilyn Tammaro at 908 577 1997 or you can send or drop off at 129 Myrtle ave Westfield nj. Again thank you all so much Tanya
Julia November 18, 2012 at 02:36 AM
Nato.. we will help with whatever is needed. However to prevent the "accidents" of puppies being born, we'd like to pay to spay / vet the adults. Several groups have offered to help. Wishing you well.
Julia November 20, 2012 at 03:02 AM
What happened to the family in the other apartment? Are they in need too?
b paterson November 26, 2012 at 06:11 PM
how eerily ironic, but i had taken a photo of the two houses back in early summer. The common garage was being condemned at that time. I downloaded it here for comparison. Our family's heart goes out to them as to the situation that has befallen to these families and the owners of the 2 houses.
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