Organizers of a benefit concert for a Cedarbrae family are asking the community to come out in support of a family who lost everything in a recent house fire.
The concert in support of the Hickman family takes place Thursday, Dec. 20, at P.C. Ho Theatre in the Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Toronto at Sheppard and Progress avenues.
The event features performances from the acapella quartet Cadence as well as a children’s choir from the Bendale Bible Chapel. Toronto Raptors announcer Herbie Kuhn will be the emcee and a raffle is planned, said co-organizer Carri Brown.
Tickets are $20 and all benefits will go to the Hickman family, who lost all of their possessions in the three-alarm fire, which started in the early morning of Nov. 4 at their home on Cedar Brae Boulevard.
Brown organized an earlier fundraiser at Cedarbrook Public School where she teaches, but wanted to come up with a seasonal event that would provide entertainment and a few hours of distraction for the Hickmans, who have had to temporarily relocate to a house near St. Clair Avenue and Kingston Road.
“I started thinking about what else we could do,” said Brown, who currently teaches the Hickmans’ ten-year-old daughter, Sabrina. “An idea of an uplifting evening kept coming into my mind.”
Co-organizer Patsy Hamilton said the benefit concert, one of several fundraisers organized to assist the Hickmans, shows the resolve of the community to come together and help a family in need.
“It’s such a blessing,” she said. “We’ve seen involvement from so many people.” Heather Hickman can’t believe the kindness total strangers have shown her family since the fire.
“It’s just been so overwhelming, from the extent of the devastation to the way the community has come together,” said Hickman from the rented house where she and the rest of the family are staying for the next four months.
Hickman, who works at the Olive Bar and Grill in Bridlewood Mall, was fast asleep when her daughter Sabrina came into her bedroom complaining about smelling smoke. Thinking it was outside, the mother of three went outside to check. She felt an intense heat coming from the garage.
She opened the door to see a bright orange “fireball”. Immediately she rushed into the house and collected the rest of the family plus their three dogs and ran back outside. “It was right out of the movies,” said Hickman.
She said neighbours and friends came by providing clothing and supplies, comforting the grief-stricken family as the home burned.
Victim Services Toronto also arranged for the Red Cross to drop off clothes and coupons for groceries. The fire caused widespread damage to the house. And because the family didn’t have insurance, they were not able to replace any of their possessions. Though the family was unharmed, the Hickmans, along with their pets, had to relocate to a hotel for the past month.
“It was the five of us and three dogs in a single hotel room,” she recalled. A further tragedy took place just recently when the Hickmans had to euthanize one of their dogs who developed health problems following the fire. “She was just traumatized,” said Hickman. ”She stopped eating, lost weight and eventually she just couldn’t keep on going.”
But in the aftermath of the fire, she said she’s been touched by the community response, from a co-worker who threw an impromptu fundraiser netting $1,000 to the Cedarbrook school initiative which raised around $2,000. Patrons of the Olive also donated money and gifts in support of the family.
“It just restores my faith in people,” she said. To purchase a ticket for the benefit concert in support of the Hickman family, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Online donations to the family can also be made until Jan., 11 2013 by visiting the family’s Giving Page at www.canadahelps.org (direct link: http://www.canadahelps.org/GivingPages/GivingPage.aspx?gpID=21746)