If acrid, billowing smoke can have a silver lining, this is it.

In the wake of an apartment fire on Deerfield Drive in Ottawa’s west end that has left 75 people homeless, people have been quick to help out.

Many of the displaced residents are Algonquin College students. The college has made several units of its on-campus residence available. It’s also offering free food vouchers.

Nearby restaurant, Chance R, has also stepped in to offer free meals.

The college is also co-ordinating donations of clothing, furniture, and other items lost in the blaze.

It is loaning out laptops from its library. And it has offered an extension to students facing final exams.

Staff-members have volunteered to house students and/or their pets.

And both staff and students are contributing non-perishable food items, from cereal to that college staple, Kraft Dinner.

New Brunswick native Gabrielle Reid is one student who lost a number of items in the blaze. She says the shock of the fire probably hasn’t hit her yet. But the out-pouring of compassion has definitely left an impact. “I’m seriously overwhelmed because of the amount of things that people want to do,” she says.

You can find more information on what services are available to students, and how you can donate, on Algonquin College’s website.