Holding her hand tightly, a young boy displaced by the recent rash of fires looks up into the eyes of Hudson Bus Lines driver Bonnie LeClair and says: “I want to drive the bus.”  LeClair is parked outside the front doors of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston Wednesday night, waiting to ferry people from the Colisee to the YWCA in Lewiston to take showers.  There are several families inside that were previously staying at Lewiston High Shool that were moved to the Colisee.  “Of course you can’t drive, but I’ll let you sit in the drivers seat for a minute.”  She keeps a sharp eye on the lad as he pretends to drive.  A few seconds later he is bouncing off the seat and out the door to run around outside until the last to be transported arrive.  

Bonnie is just one of a number of Hudson Bus Lines employess that have donated time, money and equipment to help the victims of the recent fires.  According to Doug Coupe, speaking for STA (Student Transportation of America), the parent company of Hudson Bus Lines, the “Stuff the Bus” campaign they held in conjunction with with the Salvation Army and the Red Cross collected a little more than $220,000 worth of items.  In addition to bringing in food, donating time and material, the staff and employees also donated money and gift cards.  

“I’m not surprised.” said LeClair.  “I have lived in this community long enough to see how generous people are, especially in times of crisis.  Thank God nobody was hurt.  I am just proud to be a part of this community.” 

She and her company are just one example of the massive outpouring of support that has flowed in since the first fire two weeks ago.  There has been so much clothes, toiletries and other material goods donated, the Red Cross and Salvation Army has no place left to store it themselves.  When they asked for cash donations, thousands of dollars of cash and gift cards were donated, with a majority of them coming annonymously.  It is a testiment that those who are giving are doing it out of the goodness of their heart, and not looking to be recognized for it.  The true nature of a community can often be judged by how they respond to tradgedy.  It is no doubt that the people of Lewiston and it’s surrounding communities have shown their true colors.  

Monday’s developments:

More coverage of the Lewiston fires:

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