Thirteen years ago, Rhode Island experienced one of the worst losses of life in its history when The Station nightclub fire claimed 100 lives and injured hundreds more – making it one of the deadliest blazes in U.S. history. In honor of the victims, survivors and their families, Ocean State Job Lot has joined hands with a number of organizations and local businesses to support the construction of The Station Fire Memorial Park at 211 Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick.
In addition to its corporate participation, Ocean State Job Lot is providing its customers with the opportunity to support The Station Fire Memorial Fund at the cash register at all Job Lot stores throughout Rhode Island and at select stores in Connecticut and Southeastern Massachusetts.
Jill Kerzner, Job Lot cashier at the Buttonwoods Shopping Plaza store, reported Monday that customers were voluntarily donating to the cause.
“Once they hear it’s the Station nightclub they make a donation,” she said. Kerzner, who lives in West Warwick, will never forget the night of the fire and seeing people fleeing the burning building. It’s a scene she can’t erase from her memory.
Construction has already started on the memorial at the site of the fire and the Station Fire Memorial Foundation has raised $1.65 million of the $2 million memorial drive. Former Governor Donald Carcieri and his wife Suzanne are co-chairing the drive with Gina Russo. Russo, a survivor of the fire, chairs the Station Fire Memorial Foundation. Construction of the memorial is expected to be completed this summer with a dedication taking place this fall.
Ocean State Job Lot has 16 stores in Rhode Island, including two in Warwick, one at 1290 Warwick Avenue and the other at 3030 West Shore Road in the Buttonwoods Plaza Shopping Center. Participating stores in Massachusetts include Brockton, East Bridgewater, Fall River, New Bedford, Fairhaven, Foxboro, Medford, Plymouth, Seekonk, Taunton, East Taunton, Somerset, Norwood, Southbridge and Randolph; and Connecticut stores in Groton, Waterford, and Ledyard.
The Station Fire Memorial Foundation is an all-volunteer 501(c)(3) charitable organization, so all donations are tax deductible in accordance with IRS rules.
Dan Barry, campaign director and fundraising coordinator for The Station Fire Memorial Foundation, said that the Ocean State Job Lot in-store donation kicks off the community phase of fundraising.
“We’re hoping to have everything ready for our grand dedication of the park in the fall,” says Barry.
Job Lot is coordinating this in-store collection to The Station Memorial Fund with its “Savings 911” discount program, which recognizes all first responders and public safety professionals by offering 25 percent off everything sold in Job Lot stores (with some exceptions). Currently underway at all stores in eight states, Savings 911 runs through April 6. A valid professional ID is required.
“We recognize how important this memorial park is to the hundreds, if not thousands, of people living throughout New England whose lives were in some way touched by The Station tragedy,” said David Sarlitto, executive director at Ocean State Job Lot.
Sarlitto said Monday it is too early for donation totals. He added he was at the North Kingstown store and a customer voluntarily gave $5 after reading a notice about the campaign.
“This is hitting a very sensitive spot,” he said of the drive.
With the Ocean State Job Lot Charitable Foundation, the company has established a long history of philanthropic leadership in the communities it serves. In addition to this Station Memorial Fund collection, the Foundation also supports charities and causes including but not limited to food insecurity, veterans, disaster relief efforts, the performing arts, special needs children, foster children, and educational institutions and activities.I