LEOMINSTER, Mass. (AP) — Nancy Arbo wants to bring comfort to the victims of the Columbia Hotel fire in her own way.
She is a crafter who uses plastic canvas and yarn to make decorative items such as tissue holders, a model of the Eiffel Tower and even an ornate dollhouse.
After the Nov. 24 fire she decided to use to use the plastic canvas to make brick holders and present them to residents, business owners and the emergency responders.
‘‘It’s something I feel I need to do for them,’’ Arbo said.
She has started making the brick holders using yarn in colors representative of the businesses.
Arbo made one for the Pizza Chef in red and yellow to represent sauce and cheese.
Bricks for police officers were done in shades of blue and a brick cover that Arbo made for the Sentinel & Enterprise, which lost its Leominster bureau in the fire, is black and white to represent a newspaper.
Plastic canvas is sheets of perforated holes available at craft stores.
Arbo cuts the canvas into patterns then uses a needle-like tool to stitch the yarn through the holes before tying the sheets together to make objects.
She started making brick holders as keepsakes for her father’s garage on Central Street that was knocked down when Hess bought it, she said.
She gave them to her four brothers as mementos of the business.
‘‘And that’s where the idea came from,’’ Arbo said. ‘‘It’s a memory thing.’’
Arbo’s husband Wesley ‘‘Bud’’ Arbo died last year after 53 years of marriage, and she does the crafts to stay busy.
‘‘It’s just a nice hobby,’’ Arbo said.
She is a retired sales and service representative for the insurance industry, including Met Life and A&P Insurance in Worcester.
She spends 10 to 12 hours on each brick and wants to make a holder for each of the 29 tenants and eight businesses in the building.
‘‘So I have a car full of bricks,’’ she said.
Arbo grew up on Eden Glen in Leominster and walked past the Columbia on her way to St. Leo School as a child.
‘‘I've got a lot of memories of the hotel,’’ she said.
She has given one of her bricks to a tenant already.
‘‘Just the look on his face was worth a million dollars,’’ Arbo said.