Central Florida residents could see the smoke miles down Alafaya Trail. And now the desire to help the Tivoli fire victims is spreading like wildfire.
As soon as news broke about the three-alarm fire, UCF students, businesses and organizations sprang into action to aid the 75 displaced residents. Members of the community tweeted with the hashtag #KnightsForTivoli to raise awareness.
Local nightclub Knight Library announced it will donate 50 percent of all Monday night sales to help those affected.
"Knight Library is celebrating their 10th year soon and we are really a part of the community now, so this is just an easy thing for us to do," Knight Library manager Chad Biller said. "We are hoping to donate as much as we can and that students will come out knowing they can have a good time while also being able to help others."
Phi Beta Sigma is hosting a donation drive to collect clothes, toiletries, canned goods and cash. The organizer of the drive, senior accounting and finance major Velton Ivory said he was inclined to help after witnessing the fire and knowing some of the people involved. The fraternity also plans to reach out to Target, Wal-Mart, thrift stores and other business on campus.
"This is a hard time and some students aren't going to have friends or family to help them. It's not just their clothes or food," Ivory said. "It's also their social security card, eyeglasses and things they absolutely need on a day-to-day basis."
The fraternity will collect through July 21. The following day, the group will hold an event for affected residents to pick up the items they need.
"I'm also a resident so some of the people I see and know don't have anything left. It's a huge campus, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't still look out for each other," said Farzad Omar, a finance and marketing senior and Sigma member. "This is just a small thing we can do to help out and get them back on their feet."
Delta Zeta is also collecting money for two of its sisters whose apartments were caught in the fire. So far, the sorority has raised $1,575 of its $2,500 goal. More information at www.crowdrise.com/tivolifirerelief.
Sigma Pi is also teaming up with Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Tau Omega for a clothing and toiletry drive. Donators can drop off items on campus at the ATO house in Greek Park Monday through Thursday.
Benefitting any residents affected by the fire, a gofundme account has been set up by the UCF Greek Council. Hoping to raise $4,000, the Council is also asking the community to drop off clothing, toiletries, furniture, non-perishable food items and gift cards.
Items can be dropped off at the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life during regular business hours, or in front of the Student Union Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Later that day, all four councils will host a partial proceeds event at Tijuana Flats on University Boulevard from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. More information at www.gofundme.com/greekcouncil.
UCF will be accepting donations for the estimated 25 students whose apartments were caught in the fire. Knight's Pantry in Ferrell Commons will be accepting donations of food, toiletries and Publix and Wal-Mart gift cards Monday through Thursday from noon to 5 p.m. The Knights Helping Knights is also accepting donations online to support students. More information at www.ucffoundation.org/knightshelping.
UCF has also provided temporary on-campus housing, which includes bedding and linens, at Lake Claire for those not able to stay with friends or family. The Red Cross is also helping students obtain other personal supplies. For those still in need of housing, contact UCF at 407-823-5000.
The university is also providing Victim Services and emotional support to affected students. Those interested can call 407-823-1200 to speak with a victim advocate or 407-823-2811 to speak with Counseling and Psychological Services.
Known for the popular Twitter @ucf_problems, an anonymous graduate has set up a gofundme account aiming to raise $7,500 for the affected residents. Having already raised $2,590, the fund will help residents pay for temporary housing and replace any belongings lost in the fire. More information at www.gofundme.com/tivoli.
Another member of the UCF community, Amy Evelyn Lastinger has set up a similar fund hoping to raise $20,000.
"College students have enough on their plates already, and a devastating fire can change your life," the organizer wrote on the page, which states the money will benefit those who did not have renter's insurance or cannot afford to find a place to stay and replace their belongings. More information at www.gofundme.com/tivolifire.
Bridgette Norris is a Digital Producer for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter at @blogginbridge or email her at BridgetteN@CentralFloridaFuture.com.