Community Pulls Together to Help Rebuild Brake Dairy Farm

Community Pulls Together to Help Rebuild Brake Dairy Farm

The Mercersburg area community has rallied behind the Brake family, who lost two barns to a massive fire earlier this month.

The family runs a dairy farm on Renninger Road in Peters Township. Both a bank barn and a dairy barn burned to the ground Dec. 14. About 200 dairy cows were safely evacuated but the hay and feed were a total loss.

Brake dairy fire
The Brake family dairy herd was displaced when their barn burned Dec. 14.

The herd was moved to a nearby farm and the family is now waiting on its insurance firm to give them the okay to clean up the mess left by the fire.

“Many neighbors and friends have already jumped in to help,” Susan Snider, with local farm supplier Snider’s Elevator said last week.

They helped move cattle to a nearby farm the night of the fire.

“Still more will help with the cleanup effort once they get the ok from the insurance company,” she said. “It has been an inspiring show of support from this close-knit local community.”

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Neighbors Reach out to Help

Now that the word has spread, some folks want to show support in other ways. Some, not sure exactly what the family’s initial needs are, have reached out to Sniders, asking about ways to help.

Susan Snider said the company recently got a call from a Franklin County resident vacationing in Florida wanting to help.

“He is sending a check for a donation, for us to apply to the Brake farm’s feed & farm supply account,” she said.

Others have followed suit. A Service Tire representative dropped by with a cash donation. As word spread through the community, others did the same.

“The rest of the world could learn a lot from the way this community takes care of its neighbors,” Susan said.

The Brake Family contacted Snider’s to express their appreciation for all who want to help. They said they got calls from folks who are states away, Susan said.

Overwhelmed by the show of support, the family asked Sniders if people could send donations to their company so they can purchase feed and supplies.

“Feed and supplies are an on-going expense and the donations towards that may free up some cash needed for unexpected expenses,” Glenn Brake told the hiders.

Susan Snider said that like most people in the agricultural community, the Brakes are givers, generous with neighbors and community. They are usually the ones helping others.

“They’re not used to having to accept help,” she said. “They are overwhelmed, but grateful for the outpouring of support.”

Adjusting Takes Time

Dairy operations such as Brakes start early and work late. Milking starts at 2 a.m. Their milk cows are still adjusting to being away from their familiar barn and stalls.

“Cows are smart,” Susan said. “They get used to a routine and now they have to learn a new routine.”

The entire situation has added hours to an already jam-packed routine. It’s been overwhelming, both for the family and the livestock, she said.

Although the buildings and probably the contents are insured, an insurance settlement takes time. Meanwhile, the dairy must replace the feed and some other things immediately.

For that reason, Snider‘s took on the job of accepting donations to be applied to the farm’s feed and supply account.

The firm’s accountant has set up a process to apply all donations to the Brake account, ensuring accountability for donations.

Friends and neighbors who wish to help can stop by or mail donations to Snider‘s Elevator Inc., 4551 Lemar Road, Mercersburg, PA 17236. Donations should be marked for Brake Family Farm.

Snider’s provides free Christmas cards donors can sign, or remain anonymous.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for people who want to help,” Susan said.

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