A Dallas community center filled with Christmas gifts for people in need was destroyed in an overnight fire.
The blaze spread quickly at the Asante Apartments office in the 200 block of Jim Miller Road around 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. But the complex office also was home to the Quest for Greater Success, a non-profit that provides numerous services.
Dallas Fire-Rescue could not salvage a lot of the stuff inside, including the hundreds of toys the group had just received for about 100 kids. Also destroyed was the group’s food pantry and computer center, which was used by people to find jobs or work on GEDs.
The timing of the fire was especially bad. The big Christmas toy and food giveaway were set for Tuesday.
But after news spread of the devastating fire, replacement donations quickly started pouring in. The generosity has been incredible. Strangers who have no connection to the organization said they made it a priority to help however they can after hearing about what happened.
The two-alarm fire shot through the roof of the apartment complex. It spared rented units but destroyed the apartment's rental office, which doubled as a community center for Quest for Greater Success.
The non-profit operated much-needed services like a food pantry, computer center and provided storage for collected Christmas toys.
But as the sun came up, word traveled fast about the fire. Spirits were quickly lifted with a stream of kindhearted strangers.
“I heard it on the news this morning on Channel 4, and it touched my heart,” said Sadie Freeman with Greater Saint James AME Church.
“We've already got food donations coming in. That's just awesome,” said Assata Thomas with the non-profit. “God is turning around this situation for good.”
Jermaine Cooper has a special connection to the apartments.
“Before it was the center, that was my first apartment right there,” he said.
Cooper brought hundreds of dollars in toys and says more is coming.
William Folson drove 45 minutes from Scurry-Rosser, a small town outside Kaufman, to make his contribution.
“Being a father and stuff, it's emotional, and I hate to see it,” he said. “Every kid deserves some kind of Christmas.”
Then, there are those like Ray Morales with the North Texas Corvair Association.
“We had our Christmas party this past weekend, and we had collected lots of presents like we do every year,” he said. “And as I was coming to take my wife to work today, this came up. We decided, ‘Let’s bring it to a place that needed immediate help.’”
“No, the Grinch is not gonna win,” Thomas said. “We refuse to let him win.”
Investigators say the fire began after a space heater was accidentally left running underneath a desk in an office on the first floor of the building. Fortunately, no one was injured or displaced.
The community center will be collecting toys and food to replace what was burned until Saturday when it will be taken back to the apartment complex and distributed to families needing help this holiday season.
For more information on the non-profit, visit their website at https://www.q4success.org/