Nearly a month after 45 families lost everything in a fire that roared through their Fort Lee apartment building, a day at the gym is being offered in exchange for donations.
Retro Fitness in Fort Lee is offering a workout or class in exchange for a gift card in any amount this Saturday from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., said Michele Petrillo, a member of the Linwood Park Board of Directors who's been helping the victims.
Although it didn't claim any lives and produced only three minor injuries, the Valentine's Day blaze displaced everyone living in the five-story brick Edwin Avenue building behind the Linwood Plaza shopping center.
Another 45 families who live in a Linwood Park building next door remain temporarily relocated because of damage, Petrillo said.
A GoFundMe page established by the borough collected $37,674 in a little over three weeks before it was closed. A recreation center where donations were being collected also closed, Petrillo said.
Linwood park management "had to turn a small meeting room into a donation center with only myself to go around begging for donations," she said.
The donation center at 3091 Edwin Avenue is open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
"Everyone but a few local businesses have forgotten and very few are helping," Petrillo said.
"All week I work on getting donations and supplies and on Saturdays I, as well as the general manager and a few board members, open up to feed the victims breakfast and lunch," she said. "This is a time for them to get gift cards and necessities they need for the week.
"This also gives them time to sit and chat and catch up with their neighbors that they have known for years. To shed tears and stories of what is going on in their lives now and to share the worst day of their lives."
Petrillo also accused the media of "turning its back" on the victims by not returning to Linwood Park.
SEE: The Red Cross, Fort Lee officials and community members are working to assist dozens of families displaced by a fire that tore through an apartment building.
ALSO SEE: A fire that began in a crawl space and eventually destroyed a Fort Lee apartment building Thursday night didn’t claim any lives, produced three minor injuries and didn’t appear suspicious, authorities announced. Several measures were being taken to assist the victims, they said.
"We desperately need a follow-up story to stay in the public's eye," she said. "These families have a hard road ahead of them and help is desperately needed.
"More fundraisers and more people in the community should get involved."
Retro Fitness is located at 2 Executive Drive in Fort Lee, a few blocks from Linwood Park. It can be accessed via westbound Route 4 or southbound Fletcher Avenue. PHONE: (973) 372-2946 .
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