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Acts of kindness help Penn Yan rebuild

Updated: Friday, June 6 2014, 05:38 PM EDT

Penn Yan, N.Y. -- Sierra Fenton looked at the damage left behind at a place that's served as her creative outlet.

"I knew it stormed last night but I didn't know it hit this hard," Fenton said.

Tuesday night's storm packed a powerful punch, leaving behind mud and debris inside Penn Yan's Sampson Theatre.

"All our set pieces were stored here," said Grace Knapton, bought the historic theater in 1974 with her husband, Dean.

They were in the process of renovating the building. They lost equipment. Costumes were in two trailers behind the building that were swept down the parking lot.

They don't know if they can salvage them.

Despite what's lost, so much was found in the hope of strangers.

"It was overwhelming," said Grace. "I want to say I didn't know three quarters of the people that came to help. People just came in off the street and started helping; it was amazing."

Dozens of students from Keuka College came to lend a hand, as did young children, such as Will Rogers, 12.

"The community was in need because we just had a flood," Rogers said. "We could get it all together, the way it used to be."

Help even came from those least excepted, when it was needed the most.

"It's a small town," said Fenton. "You think there's a sense of community, and it really comes up in something like this."

The Knaptons said they will move forward with plans to renovate. The architect's plans should be done by the fall. They're applying for grants and plan to get to work right away.

Acts of kindness help Penn Yan rebuild


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