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Chester County Press

Editorial: The wellspring of our decency

11/28/2017 01:46PM ● By Richard Gaw
Sometime during the afternoon and early evening hours of Nov. 23, more than 80 firefighters in Chester County were either enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with their family and friends, or had retreated to other rooms during the celebration to enjoy the warmth of a fire, the joy of conversation, or relish in the fact that the Dallas Cowboys were being soundly defeated on television.
And then a phone call came to each of them. All 80 of them responded to the call, and they were gone.
On Thanksgiving night, a family of four in East Marlborough Township arrived back at their home after spending the day in Springfield. There, in front of them, the house they lived in was entirely engulfed in flames. The fire was estimated to have started at 8:30 p.m., and within 10 minutes, firefighters began arriving at the scene from nearly every direction: from the West Grove and Avondale Fire companies; from the Po-Mar-Lin Fire, Kennett and Longwood Fire companies; from the Fame, Modena and Keystone Valley Fire companies; and from Medic 94. The intensity of the fire before them was unrelenting, and it took them more than two hours to finally bring it under control.
Everything inside the home was destroyed – precious family heirlooms, trinkets of memories, clothes and furniture and every item that belonged to them. Worse still, the family's three cats and two dogs perished in the blaze. Five days ago, the sister of the woman whose home was destroyed began a GoFundMe account in an attempt to take a chunk out of the family's finances that will be needed to shoulder the incredible burden of recuperating from the fire. Setting a reasonable goal of $25,000, she established the account and let it go into cyberspace.
Over the course of those five days, the $25,000 goal has already been shattered. To date, 522 people have contributed $38,193 toward the family, a flowing river of compassion that is just beginning to surge by the hour, and by the day: A family kicks in $50; a woman gives $100; perfect strangers send heartfelt notes along with donations. There are more anonymous donors than be easily be counted. The list goes on and on in a long and beautiful link of selflessness, and there is no reason to believe that this momentum will slow down any time soon.
Very often in the course of our lives, we do not know just how deep the wellspring of our decency is until tragedy strikes, and even then, we do not acknowledge the broad tendrils of our humanism. Rather, we are simply hard-wired to react in the face of danger. Unless we are firefighters and first responders, we cannot fathom the acceleration of their actions, nor do we know the spirit in them that clicks them from citizenship to heroism.
We are, however, hard-wired toward the better angels of our nature, and now, or in the future, we are part of the army of 522 people who have made – and will make – a foundation on which this East Marlborough Township family can rebuild their lives.

To make your contribution to the East Marlborough Township family, go to