A school community and an organization came together Monday to help more than a dozen families who lost all their belongings in an apartment fire in Sterling, Virginia last month.
April Taylor, founder of the CatchAMeal Program, collaborated with Guilford Elementary School to set up a table with toys, blankets, towels, books and other essentials.
“What we thought would be of value is -- you need to press the restart button,” Taylor said.
CatchAMeal partners with community organizations and businesses to raise funds and donations.
“The beauty in it, the blessing in it is that they are going to see how Loudoun has come together. That just warms my heart,” Taylor said.
School principal Lauren Sprowls broke the news to the children about the loss on the day of the fire, since most were at school when their homes were destroyed.
“I said, 'We’re going to be there for you no matter what. We are family. We’re here to be with every celebration but every hardship too,'” Sprowls said.
The families were called to the school on Monday but were unaware of what awaited until they turned the corner to see the tables piled high with their “restart” gifts.
Reina Cruz, her husband and two daughters were one of the families who were there taking it all in.
“This is a great blessing from God. We were not expecting any of this and we are ever so grateful for all the things that are being done here,” Cruz said in Spanish.
The elementary school community gathered together to hold a gift card drive to help the effected families, and now teachers have volunteered to stay after school to watch the kids so their parents can focus on rebuilding.
The biggest challenge for these families now is finding housing. A GoFundMe for the families has raised more than $12,000 toward this effort.
Correction (May 18, 7:10 a.m.): The organization in this story is not incorporated as a nonprofit.