The holidays are oftentimes called the season of giving and one young community member is taking that sentiment to the next level for one devastated Valencia Park family.
A family of seven lost their home in a fire on Dec. 8 at the Acacia Mobile Home Park community on 54th Street. Everyone inside evacuated safely, but the family's belongings were completely lost.
“We have more, and we can always give a little something to help others. No donation is too small,” 17-year-old Itzell Mendoza said.
On Sunday, Mendoza was at South Hills Church collecting donations for the family. Mendoza is no stranger to compassion and giving. After the devastating murder-suicide of a Paradise Hills family in November, she organized a walk against violence.
“As a community, we can become stronger together, so people can start realizing that the community is active, and we can start coming together for better ideas and solutions,” Mendoza said.
During this holiday season, she wants people to realize that while some may have a list of wants, this family has a list of needs.
The displaced family includes three children, one with special needs who requires expensive medications, the family said. In the meantime, the family has been staying in a hotel.
In the face of tragedy, Mendoza said her community has stepped up in a big way. Donations poured in at South Hills Church and even at her neighborhood Mexican restaurant.
“We have a lot of support along the way. A lot of organizations have reached out,” Mendoza said.
The family believes the fire was caused by an electrical problem with the breaker.
A GoFundMe has been set up for the family.