Frager's hardware store on Capitol Hill was destroyed by a four-alarm fire last night, and it didn't take long for residents to pledge to help rebuild it. And even as firefighters keep working to douse remaining hot spots, fundraising efforts have begun.
Julia E. Christian, the chief operating officer for the Anacostia Playhouse, quickly set up a fundraising website last night, and within less than 24 hours attracted some $20,000 from 318 donors. Christian, who has lived on the Hill all her life, says she'll give the money raised to store owner John Weintraub to help the store's 65 employees and cover costs until insurance claims are settled.
"It's a testament to why this neighborhood is amazing," she says, noting that thousands of dollars were donated overnight. She hopes to get $100,000.
Another similar fundraising effort is being coordinated by Celebrate Capitol Hill, a division of the Capitol Hill Area Merchants and Professionals. Additionally, the Matchbox Food Group, which owns restaurants on nearby Barracks Row, has said that it will work to offer temporary employment for Frager's employees. Support was also being offered by The Argonaut, Pretzel Bakery and Good Stuff Eatery, according to the Washington Business Journal.
The Capitol Hill Community Foundation is also raising money, and donations to the group are tax-deductible.
Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6) announced today that he spoke to Weintraub, who said that he is committed to re-opening the store and will be able to make his next payroll. Additionally, a pop-up store is planned this Saturday on the site of the old temporary Eastern Market South Hall that was used after the original hall was damaged by a 2007 fire.
We'll add more information on ways to help as the day progresses.