By Katie Budinger, Sidney Conway, Abby Hurley, Quelsi Jimenez and Susan Matteucci

Residents of Andover came together last weekend after gas explosions shook up the community, leaving many without homes.

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Local residents dropped food and supplies off at shelters. (Photo by Abigail Hurley)

After the explosions that took place last Thursday, local facilities were turned into shelters for those forced to evacuate. Restaurants, companies, organizations, and other residents came by to donate supplies and other necessities that were required to keep these shelters comfortable and functioning for the displaced families. Workers from the Andover Senior Center did as much as they could to make the residents feel comfortable and safe.

“We had people if they had medical issues because we had the Red Cross here… [W]e provided information, so we had a station that people could check to see if their street had been cleared,” said Renee Baker, who works at the Andover Senior Center. “We also gave them some entertainment, watched some movies and TV.”

Andover High School’s Junior Board set up a movie night and are planning to donate half of their earnings to help the people staying in shelters and those who were affected by the gas explosions. The profits will be going to the high school clubs and then distributed accordingly to organizations helping with the efforts.

One of the heads of the Junior board, Ms. Chachus, explained that the movie night was supposed to “solely benefit the back to school supply drive” that the Junior Board does every year. However, this year, the board decided to donate half of the money to organizations inside of Andover High School that are planning to help the residents of the Merrimack Valley that were affected by the gas explosions. There are many groups contributing to this effort, so, Chachus explained, the board members “didn’t want to do a drive of their own because they didn’t want to compete with the other groups in the building.” 

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Bins put together and dropped off at Lazarus house by AHS junior Hanna Finn. (Photo by Quelsi Jimenez)

Andover High School junior Hannah Finn displayed a great act of kindness when putting together six bins of leftover toys, stuffed animals, and games for the kids at the Lazarus house in Lawrence from her own non-profit organization, the One Wish Project. Finn is known for being very involved in our community and other communities as well. She said, “I wanted to bring them something that would make them happy, knowing that they are currently in a chaotic situation.”

Outside Andover, other communities and individuals reached out to offer their aid. Many Andover residents were taken in by family and friends in surrounding areas. The technical director at Sharon High School, Aaron Waite, reached out through email to Mrs. Choquette, a theatre teacher at Andover High, and offered his thoughts and support to those affected both in and outside of the AHS community. Waite also encouraged his students to get involved with the Red Cross and Salvation Army as a way of helping those affected.

This is one in a series of articles reported by the students of the Newspaper Production class following gas explosions and fires in Andover, Lawrence, and North Andover last week.