Flood of aid pours in for Valencia fire victims

first_imgVALENCIA – David Ewart is living “It’s A Wonderful Life.” The musician whose violin knows no bounds – gracing the stages of the Hollywood Bowl and the Los Angeles Philharmonic as well as Wiley Canyon Elementary School and the jungles of Peru – might not know right now how many lives have been changed by his goodness. But that goodness is being returned to him threefold after his own life changed dramatically Dec. 20. Early that morning, Ewart’s Valencia home burned to the ground, sparked by candles left burning after a Christmas party the night before. Ewart, his parents Esther, 77, and Hugh, 81, and his children Michael, 15, Jonathan, 13, and Heather, 11, escaped through a second-story window at the rear of the house. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Since Dec. 21, a network of people estimated at 10,000 strong has emerged around the world, sending prayers, good wishes and donations of both goods and finances to help the family recover. Requests for clothing and gifts were fulfilled within 24 hours. Grocery gift cards arrived in the mail every day. A national home improvement show is considering replacing the gutted home. And musicians have filled violin cases with money to help with medical bills that could exceed $5 million. “It’s phenomenal the calls and letters that come in,” Block said. Collections have been taken up at exercise clubs, theaters, baseball fields and service club meetings. Students at Hart High School collected more than $8,400 in a one-day drive. The YMCA passed the hat to the tune of $1,500. A network of families willing to provide meals has been set up and one volunteer is in charge of coordinating visitors for the burn victims once they come home. A request for furniture to replace that lost by the family was filled within two days: Couches, beds, desks, tables and chairs were offered before there was a chance to find a space to put them. Ewart’s fellow musicians, the staff at Buena Vista Home Entertainment and the Environment of People Foundation – where he serves as a board member – have researched the hundreds of projects on which he worked, replacing music scores and replenishing his library. “The minute I heard what happened, I called in sick to work and raced to the hospital, but of course, I wasn’t able to see them,” Crawford said of the family. “Right away, we started collecting Christmas gifts and clothing for the family, giving people rides to the airport and feeding two households.” Michael suffered second- and third-degree burns on nearly half his body; David was burned severely over 31 percent of his body, including his back, chest and shoulders; Hugh, released from the hospital Dec. 31, was burned on his face. Those who know David were thrilled to learn that the magical hands that bring his violin to life are fine. He is almost well enough to transfer out of the intensive care unit and the family’s Web site – www.geocities.com/[email protected] – notes he’s already reminding visitors to make sure the kids’ school projects get finished. “People rallied around David because he was a driving force in the community,” said Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s Deputy Gerri McCorkle, who ran the local sheriff’s holiday toy drive and sent the resident Santa Claus to see the Ewarts’ kids on Christmas Eve. “He had parties for his neighborhood and was active in sports; he was a very public person,” McCorkle said. Block struck up a friendship with the Ewarts’ pastor from the Newhall Church of the Nazarene. The Rev. Greg Garman visited the burn victims and provided information to keep loved ones across the community informed. As Block started her daily bulletins, her e-mail list grew from a few to a few hundred, then thousands when it was linked to musician unions, alumni organizations and church prayer chains. And the makeshift support group has thought of everything, including coordinating friends and strangers to replace the family’s photo collections. Scrapbook enthusiasts have come together to put together pages of the Ewarts’ past, asking neighbors and friends from the children’s soccer and baseball teams to comb their photo archives for pictures that might include the Ewarts. Those without pictures to contribute have created themed pages for holidays, sports and performing arts, as well as other family events. “I’ve been saving things I think David will need,” Crawford said. Her personal project is a “While You Were Sleeping” scrapbook to include things that happened in the community – from the groundswell of support to day-to-day activities – that Ewart missed while he was in the hospital. Carol Rock, (661) 257-5252 [email protected] center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGift Box shows no rust in San Antonio Stakes win at Santa Anita Esther, Jonathan and Heather suffered minor injuries – but Hugh, Michael and David suffered severe burns. David, 48, remains hospitalized, but doctors say he’s making good progress. Michael was due to come home Saturday, riding in a limousine courtesy of an enormous network of strangers who have come forward to help this family that has given – and, now, lost – so much. “The morning of the fire, I walked over there and it struck me that here was a family who went to bed the night before like everybody else, but when the morning came, their lives were changed forever,” said Josy Block, whose home office has since become a clearinghouse for information, donations and items to help the Ewarts start over. David Ewart’s days were always filled with activities that centered around his family and friends, as well as his world-renowned music. His typical day might end with a concert at the Hollywood Bowl but would be preceded by a batting-cage session, a PTA function and a lunch date to help a friend. “We were always in awe of him. That’s why we feel compelled to help him now,” said Michele Crawford, a close friend of David. “He would have a thousand things to do, but he’d always make you feel like you were the most important.” last_img read more