Community

The Park, Penn State helping displaced students after fire

Structure fire at The Park at State College apartments along Martin St. in State College April 20, 2016.
Structure fire at The Park at State College apartments along Martin St. in State College April 20, 2016.

Piles of food, blankets and clothes were stacked on a kitchen table inside The Park’s clubhouse about an hour after a fire torched Building 13.

The Wednesday fire, which collapsed the roof onto the third floor of the apartment building, left 48 Penn State students displaced. No injuries to students or firefighters were reported.

Students affected by the fire were somber in the clubhouse after the fire was put out. Some thought about whether their own belongings could be saved. Others worried about how they’d finish the last two weeks of the spring semester.

The Park General Manager Erika Garcia and Property Manager Tara Dixon said in a statement it would work with local grocers and retailers to arrange care packages for the displaced students. They will also accept donations at The Park’s management office, which is located at 348 Blue Course Drive and is the building at The Park’s entrance.

“If you would like to donate, we are looking for unopened containers of toiletries and bathroom supplies (like) shampoo, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair brushes, dental floss, razors, shaving cream, feminine hygiene products, Q-tips and mouthwash, new underwear, socks and new or like-new ... clothing, (including) shorts, T-shirts, pants and sweatshirts,” the statement said. “We will be accepting donations of these items in the management office, tonight and tomorrow.”

Garcia and Dixon also secured housing for a night and other basic necessities.

“At this time, our focus is on our resident family,” The Park management said. “We have arranged for hotel rooms tonight at the Sleep Inn for displaced residents. We selected this hotel because it is walking distance to The Park, it is on the way to the Penn State campus and can still be accessed through the bus line. We are also bringing in food tonight for those affected by the fire and our community at large.”

Lion’s Pantry food bank, located behind the Blue Band building, also offered support. It is open 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Friday, though in a statement the food bank said students should reach out if assistance is needed outside of operating hours. The Lion’s Pantry email is lionspantrypsu@gmail.com.

Items available after showing a student ID include canned good, boxed foods and toiletries.

The Park management said it reached out to other apartment communities “to arrange alternate living accommodations,” and Penn State spokeswoman Lisa Powers said the Residence Life office would work to place students on campus if they opted. Powers said she also notified Student Affairs for faculty to “hopefully” accommodate the fire victims.

The university will also provide counseling to those displaced.

“Our thoughts are with our residents impacted by this event,” The Park management said. “We will rally around you all in support.”

Shawn Annarelli: 814-235-3928, @Shawn_Annarelli

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