Fundraising event helps victims of Sunnyside fire that destroyed five businesses earlier this month

Sunnyside singer Jax Gabriel performs at the fundraiser to help those who lost their jobs from the Aug. 12 fire. (Julia Moro/QNS)

Western Queens businesses came together to host a fundraising event on the night of Monday, Aug. 23, for victims of the Sunnyside fire that destroyed local businesses earlier this month. 

Early Thursday, Aug. 12, a fire raged through Queens Boulevard that overcame five businesses on the strip. Dozens of small businesses in the area came together with the help of the Queens Advisory Council to organize the outdoor fair that featured performances from Sunnyside talent Jax Gabriel and Manhatitlan Mexican Cultural Dancers.

The fair took place at Katch Astoria at 31-19 Newtown Ave. in an outdoor and canopied setting. About 40 people came for the performances, drinks and food. Additionally, gift cards and gift baskets were raffled off from several local Astoria and Sunnyside businesses, including Grand Wine & Liquor, Redken Saloon Salon and Tito Rad’s Grill.

The Manhatitlan Mexican Cultural Dancers performed at the fundraiser for Sunnyside employees affected by the fire. (Julia Moro/QNS)

All proceeds from the event were donated to Sunnyside Shines’ Fire Relief Fundraiser, which will be distributed to all who lost their jobs in the fire.

About 40 workers at Bajeko Sekuwa restaurant, Made Café, Mad for Chicken, Taiyo Foods and Yeserith Aesthetics lost their jobs due to the fire.

More than $40,000 has already been raised through a GoFundMe campaign, and organizers were hoping the fundraising event would get them to $50,000. 

Roseann McSorley, chair of the Western Queens Advisory Committee and owner of Katch Astoria, said holding this event was a no-brainer. 

“All the businesses across western Queens really suffered during COVID, so these five businesses who were able to stay open through [the pandemic] now get hit with a fire and lose their entire business,” McSorley said. “I think from a business perspective, because I’m a businesswoman, that is absolutely horrendous.”

After McSorley learned about the tragedy, she reached out to Jaime-Faye Bean, the executive director of the Sunnyside Shines Businesses Improvement District, to put together the fundraiser.

Bean already organized the GoFundMe campaign for the small businesses affected by the fire.

“Part of our role in Sunnyside is to make sure that our small businesses and residents are supported,” Bean said. “Before COVID, we didn’t have the level of small business organizing that we have now, and what we have now is really thanks to [McSorley].”

The businesses are all looking to return to the area, but Bean said it would take a while and hopes these contributions will help. 

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