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Fundraiser started for woman who lost business in fire

A fundraiser is underway for a woman whose heart is as big as the community that she served through her business.

RCMP fire investigators are seen on Saturday morning in front of the rubble left from a Friday fire at 104 Main Street in Stephenville. Frank Gale/The Western Star

On Friday Debbie Wilton’s business, Debbie’s Video Shoppe, was destroyed by fire in a blaze that took out her business and three others, along with the lives of 24 cats and kittens that were in a temporary Southwest Coast SPCA shelter in the building at 104 Main Street in Stephenville.

Now Debbie’s niece, Karen Walsh, is asking people to help out her aunt, while she and her staff go through this trying time.

Wilton started out as an employee of The Video Shoppe 27 years ago and six years later took over the business, changing the name to Debbie’s Video Shoppe. Through the years it was much more than just a video store, as Wilton was instrumental in supporting many organizations in the community through different fundraisers.

She was especially noted for her support of the Canadian Cancer Society’s Relay for Life during its 10-year history in the town and was even recognized with the Provincial Canadian Cancer Society’s Community Champion Award in May of 2014.

But it wasn’t just that, whenever someone fell ill and was in recovery at home, Wilton would provide movies free of charge.

While she carried insurance, Walsh said Debbie and her husband Keith will have a struggle ahead of them for the next while with the business being closed, income being limited and not being able to provide a workplace for Debbie's employees.

Wilton said she is very appreciative of all the support and messages that she received on social media from people near and far.

She said hopefully she can start out again with her sign, the only thing saved from the fire.

On Sunday afternoon, the online fundraiser had reached $5,675, which represented 28 per cent of the $20,000 goal that was set.

“This is life altering, it’s just shocking and if anyone deserves the help, it’s Debbie,” Walsh said of her aunt.

The fundraiser can be found online at

Meanwhile, Rowena Bourgeois has planned a Debbie Wilton Appreciation Day at 12 noon this Saturday at the Lions Club on Woodland Drive in Stephenville. Anyone wanting to assist Bourgeois with this event can contact her at:

Police couldn’t be reached on the weekend to find out if a cause of the fire had been determined.



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