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Benefit dinner nets local family $5,000

  • Daniele Sivula traveled from Ashby, Mass., to give support for a local family devastated by a fatal fire last month during a benefit dinner and raffle at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Daniele Sivula traveled from Ashby, Mass., to give support for a local family devastated by a fatal fire last month during a benefit dinner and raffle at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Volunteer Lynn Vaillancourt speaks with John Prince, the brother of a New Ipswich home owner who lost his home, son and grandson in a house fire two days before Christmas during a benefit for the family at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Volunteer Lynn Vaillancourt speaks with John Prince, the brother of a New Ipswich home owner who lost his home, son and grandson in a house fire two days before Christmas during a benefit for the family at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.


    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Daniele Sivula traveled from Ashby, Mass., to give support for a local family devastated by a fatal fire last month during a benefit dinner and raffle at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Volunteer Lynn Vaillancourt speaks with John Prince, the brother of a New Ipswich home owner who lost his home, son and grandson in a house fire two days before Christmas during a benefit for the family at the Greenville American Legion on Sunday.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday at the Greenville American Legion, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Marcus P's Diner Plus held a benefit dinner for the Prince family on Sunday, where nearly 300 people came out in support.<br/><br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

GREENVILLE — Nearly 300 people lined up 20 minutes in advance to give their support to a local family that lost two of its members in a house fire shortly before Christmas, donating more than $5,000 in assistance at a benefit dinner at the American Legion on River Street on Sunday.

People poured into Greenville’s American Legion building for heaping platefuls of ham and turkey dinner, and to buy tickets by the arm length to drop in assorted raffle bags for items donated by dozens of local businesses, with all the proceeds going directly to the Prince family of New Ipswich. The end result was $5,050 in donations.

A fire on Dec. 22 destroyed the home of Beth and Richard Prince, leaving the two hospitalized and claiming the lives of one of their sons, Joshua Prince, 26, and their grandson, 23-month-old Gregory Prince Jr.

“Losing a son and a grandson, this won’t make up for it,” said volunteer Michelle Novak during the benefit. “But at least they know they’re loved.”

Prince family members who attended the dinner said they have definitely been feeling the love from the local community since the fire.

“People have been incredible,” said John Prince, Richard Prince’s brother. “I’m flabbergasted. Everyone has been so nice and generous. People ask every day how I’m doing and what I need. Christmas Eve, people kept showing up bringing presents for the kids.”

Four of the Prince children have been staying with John Prince, while their parents recover in the hospital. When they are released, the family will be able to occupy an apartment on John Prince’s property, furnished by donations made since the fire.

“There have been rough times,” said John Prince of how the family has been coping since the fire. “But in general they’ve been pretty good under the circumstances. They’ve been really strong, coming together to support each other.”

The outpouring of support has made a world of difference, said Kendra Tucci, the grandmother of Gregory Prince Jr.,but it doesn’t heal the wound left by the loss of her grandson.

“It’s been very tough. To me, it doesn’t seem real,” she said. “I keep thinking I’ll see him come back to me. I hope eventually we’ll be able to get back to normal, except normal will never be normal again for me. My life will never be the same. But we have each other and a lot of friends, so we at least have that.”

John Prince, who came to the benefit from UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester Mass., where Beth and Richard Prince are still hospitalized, said the couple is making slow but steady improvement. Both were awake and aware when he left, he said, but still unable to speak.

“Every time I see people, they ask how they are and if they can do anything. Everyone is calling and asking after the family, and bringing meals to my house. It shows how much it pays to live in a small community,” said John Prince.

Tucci agreed. “It’s so nice we live in a community where everyone cares enough to come together like this,” she said.

Emily Walden, co-owner of Marcus P’s, said that the benefit went beyond her expectations. She and her husband, Mark Walden, had planned to serve about 200 meals at the dinner but the number of people who showed up was well over that. They ran out of food they had set aside for the benefit and had to dip into the supplies for Marcus P’s to fill the demand. But that’s a good problem to have, said Emily.

“We’d just like to thank everyone that came out and made the benefit a successful one,” she said in a telephone interview Monday. “It was above and beyond what we hoped for.”

Donations can still be made to benefit the Prince family at TD Bank, Marcus P’s or the Greenville American Legion, the New Ipswich Market, Nennies 5 Star Cafe and Catering and Hoppy’s General Store.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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