Preston rallies for fire victims (video)
In the few days since a tragic New Year's Day fire, the Preston community has rallied to help a longtime bowling alley and restaurant rebuild.
More than $6,000 has been raised between two GoFundMe pages, one to help the employees who will be out of work and another to rebuild B&B Olympic Bowl and Restaurant.
Community members said B&B owners Shelly and Paul Hanson always go the "extra mile" for others, so now, the community is stepping up to help them.
"People are willing to do whatever they can to help them rebuild," said Ilene Edwards, an employee at the bowling alley and restaurant for 13 years. "It's amazing the support of this community — it's almost overwhelming to us as employees."
The fire destroyed the "community cornerstone" early Friday. Shelly Hanson was preparing to open the restaurant when a fire started in the kitchen and quickly spread to an open attic area.
Several 911 calls were made at 5:42 a.m., and fire departments from Fountain, Harmony, Stewartville and Preston battled the fire through the morning.
While the cause of the blaze is still under investigation, the community is wasting no time helping the family transition.
Tonja Lawler, a Preston resident who frequented the bowling alley, set up the GoFundMe account for the employees. She said it's a "complete loss" for the community and is working with others to plan a March benefit to help the Hanson family rebuild.
"Everybody's like family that walks through the door," Lawler said. "It's just really one of those family atmospheres, and (Shelly) has worked her heart and soul into that place."
Lawler said she thought it only made sense to try to help them, noting the Hansons are "always the first ones there to help (others)."
"(Shelly's) done that for other people," Lawler said. "She has given so much to the community; it's a blessing that they're giving back to her."
Video source: David Phillips .
Edwards said about 12 employees worked at B&B Bowl and Restaurant, either part- or full-time.
"My heart is broken for them; I just don't know what they're going to do," Edwards said.
Edwards said the outpouring of community support has a lot to do with the Hanson family.
"They have helped so many people in the community themselves; they just give generously any time anybody needs anything," Edwards said, noting she wasn't surprised so many have stepped up to help the family.
"The city of Preston has come through," Edwards said. "I'm not surprised because that's the type of people that live around here."
Two GoFundMe accounts have been established to aid out-of-work employees and help the owners rebuild B&B Bowl and Restaurant:
To help employees: www.gofundme.com/8th4yz5g
To help the owners: www.gofundme.com/grh5ac5z