Community rallies in support
By Jessica Tuggle
INDIAN RIVER COUNTY -- Within the past month, firefighters have been seen at the Indian River County Firefighters Fair, on the job fighting serious blazes and lending a helping hand to one of their own.
Two weeks ago, an early morning fire consumed the family home of Scott Chnupa, a 21- year veteran of Indian River County fire rescue division. All seven members of the family made it out of the house safely, but the great majority of their belongings were burned to ashes.
At press time, the cause of the fire was still unknown.
Several individuals and organizations have set up donation funds, gathered clothing and other items to help the family recover and begin a "new normal" phase in their lives.
At the Indian River County Firefighters Fair in Vero Beach last week, raffle tickets were sold and the proceeds were given to the Chnupa family
Gene Hout, general manager of the Own It Now in Vero Beach, and his wife, Tracy, raised $4,652 in the raffle for family during the fair. Winners of the raffle drawing won furniture sets, but one local winner decided to give her prize to the family instead.
Toni Falk donated her prize, a living room set, to the family, and Own It Now also contributed a dining room set to help the family get started when they are in a house of their own again.
Raising awareness while at the firefighter's fair was a good way to share the community's caring for their own service personnel, she said.
"They are such good people. When I met them I told them it feels like we've known each forever. We've definitely made new friends," Mrs. Hout said.
Financial donations can also be made to the Chnupa Family Relief Fund, courtesy of the firefighters union, at 1818 Commerce Ave., Vero Beach.
Physical donations, such as furniture or kitchen items can be dropped off for the family at the main fire station on Old Dixie Highway and 16th Street in Vero Beach or at Divine Animal Hospital in Vero Beach.
Also, friends of the family set up a Facebook page. An online donation page has been set up for the family that will remain active through April 8.
To view the Facebook support page, visit www.facebook.com/ChnupaFamilyFireFund?ref=stream. For the fundraising page, visit https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/3SRq7.