Old East Village benefit concert raises $20K and packs a powerful community punch

Efforts to raise funds for those affected by the explosion on Woodman Avenue continue. On Tuesday, while Londoners packed the Aeolian Hall with people in support of the Old East Village Community, a community meeting was held to sort out how the funds will be distributed.

The head of LifeSpin expects the total amount of monetary donations to exceed $70,000

There's been an outpouring of support for London's Old East Village community after the neighbourhood was shaken by an explosion. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

Londoners packed Aeolian Hall Tuesday night to keep raising money for those affected by last week's explosion on Woodman Avenue and to show community spirit and support.

The benefit concert raised more than $20,000. 

And that's just a small portion of the money that's poured in for homeowners and those affected by the explosion that rocked the community last Wednesday, when an allegedly drunk driver crashed into a home and set off a powerful blast which resulted in severe damage to 10 homes.  

"I'm here because financially I really wanted to help," said Rene Caldwell, who attended the concert. 

"I think if I was in their shoes, every single person who came out would be like an angel." On Tuesday, Londoners packed Aeolian Hall in an effort to keep continuing raising funds for those who were affected. 

Money for the Aeolian Hall event came from donations at the door, a raffle and auction, as well as money spent at food trucks parked outside. 

Londoners packed the Aeolian Hall for a benefit concert in support to those affected by the explosion in Old East Village on August 20. (Hala Ghonaim/CBC)

The support at last night's concert was more than just a financial contribution. 

"It's dollars and cents, but they'll literally hear the support they have from down the street," Marcus Plowright said. 

The funds raised through the benefit concert are just a fraction of what the families affected from the explosion will receive. 

What's been raised so far

On Tuesday evening, multiple community partners who have been collecting tangible and monetary donations met for the first Disaster Relief Committee meeting in order to coordinate how much money has been collected and how it will be distributed. 

Jacqui Thompson, the executive director of LifeSpin and one of the people coordinating the distribution of funds, expects the total amount raised will exceed $70,000. 

"This week, we hope to get about $50,000 into the hands of folks that we've identified as critical," she said.

Families who are unable to move back into their homes will be given $2,000 this week and will be paired with a neighbour volunteer who will assemble a package of donated goods and services to meet the family's immediate needs.

Families from evacuated homes will get $250 in cash to cover money spent in the first 24 hours of being away from home. Those families also have access to donated goods and are asked to complete an online form to share contact information. 

A number of fundraisers are still in the works and the Old East Village Community Association asks that money be channeled to the Woodman Families Fund at Libro Financial. 

Thompson says that the rest of the money raised will be distributed over the next six months.

"We know that people will have longer term needs ...  Insurance does take a while to process, so people may be out of their houses for some time," she added. 

There is no official number on how much money has been collected.  

"We don't know [what the final tally is] yet," Thompson told CBC News. 


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