The Citizen received this note from Claudia Fox Tree with a request to share it with our readers
Dear Bedford Community,
Last Thursday, I took different things to work than I usually do because I was going on a Nemo-Storm-rescheduled-fieldtrip with my seventh grade students and knew I would be on a bus and then in a theater and not directly teaching. After work, I picked up my daughter from the Bedford High School at 4pm to go to the orthodontist. She was planning to babysit at 5:30, so we needed to get right back to Bedford. On our way home, at about 5:15, she noticed an unknown number on my cell phone and handed it to me. It was a police officer. He told me that my home was on fire and asked if I knew where all my children were. There proceeded the worst 15 minutes of my life as my daughter frantically dialed numbers to locate her 4 siblings and handed the phone off to me. Thankfully, we reached everyone within minutes – modern wonders of the mobile phone that the kids have had since they were in middle school!
We are all still in shock and reeling with what has happened. While the loss of belongings is overwhelming, the sense of relief that we were not in the house and that my parents, who lived downstairs, were okay, outweighs all other thoughts. Each time we mourn the loss of my cat, Echo, we smile at the survival of her sister, Mesa, who was quietly “mewing” under a tarp outside the next afternoon. In many ways, we are “lucky.” The Universe was looking out of us.
We believe that the belongings we will recover from the fire are meant to move with us to the next stage of our lives, and those that didn’t, are not. We still have our Native American drum, which was protected by a full sheepskin, and almost all of our Native American regalia.
It’s a mystery as to what becomes ash and what doesn’t.
We have a long road ahead of us, lined by the goodness of others. The “village” of Bedford (and beyond) has already poured out emotional support, their personal time to help us recover, tangible goods, storage spaces, and many contributions of every sort, beginning on Valentine’s Day with the first responders who put out the fire so quickly. The outpouring of love that we have received from the Bedford community has been remarkable. Words cannot express the gratitude we have toward our immediate network of close friends (you know who you are) to complete strangers who signed a GiveForward list as “a commuter who pass by everyday.” We are ever so thankful.
There are literally hundreds of people to whom we offer gratitude, beginning with the Bedford Police and Fire Departments from Concord, Carlisle, Billerica, Hanscom Air Force Base, and Burlington.
We also want to publically thank the many organizations who have committed their energy, time, and resources during the initial days after the fire, including Bedford Public Schools (BHS & JGMS); their Counseling, Coaching/P.E., and Special Education Departments; the Bedford School Administration and Teachers’ Association; Callahan’s Karate; the Class of 2014; UMass Boston, and the Lincoln Public Schools. We know there will be many more organizations to thank in the days to come.
Some of our very close friends have taken the lead to help our transition and recovery of possessions (you know who you are, we are already thanking you personally every single day!). Jennifer Wolfrum of Arlington, Brooklyn Tyler and his family, Anthony Ruggerio and his family, Beth Billouin and her family, Dawn LaGrassa and her family, René Anderson and her family, Mike Hayes and his family, and Samantha Blakely and her family have helped create new temporary “homes” for us by taking us in overnight during this school vacation week as we try to establish a new place to stay where we can be a family under the same roof.
We will forever be impressed by Samm Hamilton’s level head and forethought in immediately establishing the GiveForward website in our name within hours of the fire, which we can now use to update the community on our progress and needs. This will be a long process.
We can focus on rebuilding our life and dealing with this traumatic event because Linda Christen is managing phone calls, emails, tangible goods, storage, recovery of personal belongings and their cleaning, the overwhelming support, and so much more.
It would take an entire newspaper to individually thank all the people who have already stepped up and the numbers grow every day. As our lives change, we think of a Chuck Palahniuk quote from The Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”
In gratitude to the many communities we are part of, especially Bedford, Claudia and kids (Cheyenne, Sequoya, Dakota, Savannah, Indigo)
Claudia A. Fox Tree
224 Carlisle Road
The Citizen is pleased to report that the Give Forward campaign to help the Fox Tree-McGrath family after last week’s fire stands at $11,765 with a goal of $15,000, that the Bedford Neighborhood Brigade, the Junior Class at Bedford High School and others have stepped forward and are organizing efforts in support of the family.
One such request comes from Fox Tree-McGrath family friend Linda Christen:
I’m sure you have heard about last week’s tragic loss of the Fox Tree family’s home to fire. Three generations are now without a home. As they assess what, if anything is salvageable, figure out accommodations for the grandparents, Claudia and her four children still living at home they have reached out to the community for support.
In the past five days they have experienced the amazing outpouring of physical and emotional support from this wonderful town and wider community. They send their deepest appreciation for these kindnesses.
Many clothing items have been donated; they are not in need of any more clothing. Claudia asked that I let everyone know that any donated clothing which did not fit will be taken by her daughter, Cheyenne, to the Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota, in March when she travels there with a group of students from UMass Boston.
The children are still in need of personal items such as underwear and shoes. The two boys have lost everything and the 15 year old twins have lost nearly everything.
Gift cards to replace lost underwear, shoes and personal items would be appreciated at stores such as Kohl’s, Macy’s, and CVS.
Concrete donations most needed at this time include:
- clear Rubbermaid style storage bins
- bubble wrap
- moving boxes or “Banana Boxes”
- packing tape
- “Gojo” hand cleaner
- paper towels
We are slowly working through collections of dolls, plates, figurines and any dishes and pots and pans which can be washed and stored until they have a home. Please email me at [email protected] if you have items for donation, I will reply with the donation site.
The family has lost all of their baby photos, high school memorabilia and fifteen years’ worth of family photo albums are seriously singed and water damaged. Fox Tree and his wife, Regina, also lost family photos from Claudia and her four sibling’s youth.
We are looking for volunteers with expertise in photo and video restoration, scanners and willingness to scan and electronically organize pictures and videos.
Other experts in book or doll restoration willing to attempt repairing singed or smoke damaged books and dolls would be greatly appreciated.
Please email me at [email protected] if you can help with any of this.
The children have all been involved in activities such as dancing, theater (BHS, Bedford Youth Camp & Concord Youth Theater), ice skating (Indigo), choral groups and BHS (Dakota has participated in many regional choral concerts) as well as athletics and the arts (painting, drawing, sculpture and pottery). The boys have played football, the twins are cheerleaders and Indigo is on the girl’s lacrosse team. All five children attended the Nature Preschool.
While the BAA has kindly offered to replace their sporting goods the family wonders if anyone out there has:
- Photographs of their children which may include any of the Fox Tree children. If so would they consider scanning or copying the photos so that photo albums can be recreated?
- Any memorabilia from the BHS class of 2010 and 2012 would be greatly appreciated.
In addition to this they have lost Cheyenne’s old prom and semi-formal dresses. Cheyenne is 21 and just four weeks ago moved into an apartment near her school. As with many “emerging adults” she was straddling her two homes and most of her belongings were still at her childhood home. The twins would have used these for this spring’s prom season. The boys have also lost their formal suits. These items are best replaced by each individual as sizes and personal taste are important to teenagers. If you would like to help in this area, gift cards to Macy’s, Burlington Coat Factory, Marshall’s, or T.J.Maxx would be greatly appreciated.
Contact me for mailing address or drop off locations for any donations. If you mail any gift cards, please designate on the envelope, “Fox Tree family” c/o Linda Christen. If you have any specific hopes for whom and for what the card is to be used include those on a note in the envelope and we will try, to the best of our ability, to make sure that it is used as hoped.
There is also a direct donation site set up at: https://www.giveforward.com/foxtrees
And finally the BHS Class of 2014 is planning a Flat Bread Fundraiser for Thursday night, February 28th, a portion from every pizza sold, in house or take out, will be given to the Fox Tree family. Please join us at Flat Bread on the 28th!
Feel free to email me ([email protected]) if you have any questions, or for the address of the donation sites.
Thank you so much,