With the holidays approaching there is no better time than now for neighbors to come together for a good cause. After tropical storm Irene swept through the east coast, communities in many areas of New England were virtually devastated. Wilmington, Vermont is one of the towns that sustained severe damage. Revival will take years.

 But that will soon change.  Chris Zizza, president of C&R Flooring – headquartered in Needham, MA, with a second location in downtown Wilmington, is spearheading an ambitious effort to raise awareness and funds to help rebuild the downtown Wilmington area. With the help of friends and neighbors in Massachusetts, New York and Vermont, he founded The Friends of the Valley Foundation.  Through multiple fundraising efforts, Zizza and the foundation hope to raise enough to rebuild a number of businesses, starting with the North Star Bowl and Community Center, which was completely destroyed. North Star Bowl was one of the Wilmington’s residents and visitors most frequented and loved venues.

 “Once these storms come and go, many of us forget about what happened and the people effected who are right in our own back yard,” states Zizza. “Think about how Mississippi is still recovering from the devastation caused by Katrina. The same is true in Vermont. It’s not a front page story anymore so it is easy to forget how our neighbors in Vermont are struggling.”

 Zizza also lost his Wilmington business in the storm.  Irene left the Deerfield Valley area of Vermont in shambles, after the state experienced it’s most massive flooding since 1933. Aside from gutting homes and businesses in the town of Wilmington, the storm also cut the community off from the rest of the world after flooding wiped out all major roads and bridges.

 Part of the re-building plan for North Star Bowl includes the dedication of the Community Room in memory of Charlie Brown – a longtime seasonal resident of Wilmington who passed away suddenly this past June.  Charlie’s company, C.W. Brown – a commercial contracting firm located in Thornwood, New York and now run by Charlie’s wife, Renee – is working with the Friends of the Valley Foundation by rallying employees of the company to volunteer their time to provide the construction labor, supplies, etc.  Work from Brown’s team  is already underway.

“We already have received so much positive feedback on what we plan to do,” states Zizza. “Now we need everyone to hop on board and support our efforts.” 

Several events planned to help with the cause include:

Holiday Open House on December 16th 5:30PM – 10:30 PM  at the C&R Flooring  showroom, 65 Crawford Street, Needham. This benefit includes a wine and scotch tasting, refreshments, music, and a silent auction. This event is FREE and open to the public. RSVP is requested at 781-444-1553.

Bruce Springsteen Signed Guitar & Concert Package – an exclusive raffle including a signed, Springsteen Fender guitar (value $10,000), 2 tickets to an upcoming Bruce Springsteen concert during his 2012 tour (dates TBD), hotel and airfare. Only 750 tickets will be sold. Raffle tickets are priced at $100 each and will be available at the Holiday open house or can be purchased on the Friends of the Valley website – www.friendsofdeerfieldvalley.org.

 Friends of the Valley New Years Eve Party – Saturday, December 31st at the partially renovated North Star Bowl. The night will include live music, raffles, and refreshments. Tickets and more will be forthcoming.

 “There is no better time than now to help out a neighbor in need. It’s easy to lose track of how significant the act of one American helping another can be. One person can certainly make a difference, but when that person has the support of others that is when things really start to happen,” said Zizza. 

 The Friends of the Valley Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)3 charity. All donations are tax deductable. For more information about the organization, to make a donation, or to purchase raffle tickets for the Bruce Springsteen package, visit www.friendsofdeerfieldvalley.org. Checks are also accepted and can be mailed to The Friends of the Valley Foundation, P.O. Box 1641, Wilmington, VT 05363.

 For more information, contact Chris Zizza at C&R Flooring, (781) 444-1553.