The vandalized community fridge outside of state Senator Jessica Ramos’ district office in East Elmhurst not only received an outpouring of donations, but even got fixed by a family-run repair business in three days.
The community fridge, where neighbors can take free food when they need it or even donate some, was found damaged on the morning of Saturday, Jan. 2, by Ramos’ Director of Communications Esther Rosario.
Ramos, who hosted weekly food distributions for three months during the height of the pandemic last year, quickly took to social media to share the news and ask for donations in order to restore the “lifeline.”
“So many of our neighbors depend on the generosity of other neighbors to get through these difficult times. Now this lifeline is gone. I’m heartbroken,” Ramos wrote on Saturday.
The community fridge outside our district office was vandalized and destroyed last night. So many of our neighbors depend on the generosity of other neighbors to get through these difficult times. Now this lifeline is gone. I’m heartbroken. pic.twitter.com/NACU1M5hI5
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) January 2, 2021
But she quickly received an outpouring of support from fellow elected officials and community members.
And by Monday morning, the fridge was fixed — to Ramos and her team’s surprise.
Andres Gil and Gilberto Gil, son and father owners of GB Repairs, a repair business based in East New York, saw the news on TV that morning and decided to pass by.
“We saw what happened and saw we were in the neighborhood so we said, ‘Let’s go fix it,’” Andres told QNS. “It’s messed up. Why would somebody do that?”
FRIDGE UPDATE: In just 3 days we received over $35K in donations that will keep our neighbors fed & were shocked to find our community fridge fixed after receiving a surprise visit from owners of family run repair business, GB Repairs. Thanks for coming through for our neighbors! pic.twitter.com/oCpFUh44qu
— Jessica Ramos (@jessicaramos) January 4, 2021
Andres said this way, Ramos can use the donations to buy more food and keep the fridge stocked. He said the gesture “was nothing, really.”
Rosario, though, said they acted as “good Samaritans.” She said they are still reviewing footage from nearby businesses to find who vandalized the fridge.
“But for us the most important thing is the fridge is up and running again and we can do our work of feeding our neighbors,” said Rosario. “It really breaks down barriers to receiving assistance.”
This isn’t the first community fridge in Queens to be defaced, though. In August, a community fridge in Far Rockaway was dragged out and left on a jetty in the ocean, which Rockaway Revolution, a mutual aid group, described as not only hateful, but as indicative of the racism and classism within the community.
Community fridges, mostly run by mutual aid groups and grassroots organizers, began popping up all over New York City as a response to the exacerbated food insecurity that many at-risk communities are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
There are currently more than 70 community fridges in the city, with several spread across western Queens.