BEDFORD-STUYVESANT —As live video of a massive fire in the town of West, Tex. played on national news outlets last week, Autumn Stanford sat more than 1,600 miles away in her Bedford-Stuyvesant home, watching in horror.
Stanford, a 33-year-old Austin, Tex. native and owner of the Brooklyn Kolache Co., knew of the small Texas town the same way most Texans did: it was the "kolache capital," home to the savory or sweet pastry well-known across the state.
She also knew that with a population of just 2,849, according to U.S. Census data, the devastation could be crippling. So she immediately wanted to do what she could to help out.
"It was going to be a significant tragedy for the community," Stanford said. "So right then and there I decided to do a fundraiser."
Initial planning of the fundraiser started on the Meetup.com group Texpats NYC, a group for ex-Texans living in New York. When Stanford visited the site, she saw that members were discussing the tragedy and thinking of ways to help out.
Group members immediately helped organize the fundraiser, contacting Texas-based brewery Shiner, who recently began distributing in New York, to participate.
"Together, we can help ease the burden of victims and responders as they work to rebuild their community," organizers said.
Fourteen people were killed and hundreds more were injured when an explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant caused a massive fire shortly before 8 p.m. Apr. 17, burning the building to the ground and causing damage for blocks in every direction, according to the Associated Press.
The factory explosion heard as far away as Waxahachie, a Texas town 45 miles to the north, according to reports. The cause of the explosion remains unclear, according to CNN.
"If any of you ever took the drive from Dallas to Austin on IH35, West is where you stopped at the Czech store for amazing kolaches," a Texpat member named Jax posted on Meetup.
The fundraiser for West, Tex. goes from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Apr. 28. A $20 required donation gets you unlimited kolaches and beer. All proceeds will go to the Victims of West Explosion via POINTWEST Bank in West, Tex. You can also donate by clicking here.