May 10, 2005
A fire that damaged Marcela Rodriguez’s downtown Chandler apartment left her family of five not only without a place to live, but with no clothing, furniture and personal items.
The Chandler Fire Department, Community Action Network and the Red Cross helped the 35-year-old Rodriguez and her family with a hotel the first night, money for a new apartment and furniture.
But there was still a gap that needed to be filled.
That’s where the Chandler Christian Community Center stepped in, providing the family and seven other people displaced by the fire with clothing, food and personal care items.
"Since the apartment fire we have gotten clothes, food and baby formula twice at the community center," said Rodriquez through an interpreter. "This is the place that has helped us a lot."
The Chandler Christian Community Center has helped meet the basic human needs of people in crisis since 1966, said executive director Elaine Leanos.
Through donated items, the center helped 50,000 people throughout the past year with food, personal care items, clothing and some furniture, Leanos said.
The center at 345 S. California St., Chandler, helps residents in Chandler, Queen Creek, Higley, Gilbert and Ahwatukee Foothills.
Located in a residential area in two buildings, the community center is run by a staff of four. Volunteers help pack food boxes, work in the clothing bank and sort donated items, Leanos said.
"We help everyone from the working poor to multiple families living under one roof," said Leanos, who has been at the center for 12 years. "We want to help them through their crisis situation."
The clothing bank is set up as a store with clothes neatly hanging on racks and shoes placed on shelves. Families can shop for items and not have to search through bags of clothes, Leanos said.
Boxes of canned food and shopping carts filled with potatoes and lettuce await hungry families in the food distribution rooms.
The Chandler Christian Community Center works with My Sister’s Place, a domestic violence shelter in Chandler, and is a United Way affiliate.
The fire that displaced the Rodriguez family was caused by faulty electrical wiring in the bedroom of the apartment next door to theirs, said Chandler Battalion Chief Dan Couch. The community center also helped that family with items.
How to help
The Chandler Christian Community Center is always in need of volunteers and donations of money, food and clothing, especially children’s clothing. Items can be dropped off 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday at 345 S. California St., Chandler. For information, call (480) 963-1423.