As soon as word got out that fire had destroyed the playground at a Jefferson City-based nonprofit, community-minded leaders sprang forward to offer financial support.
Supporters of Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (and some community members who were less familiar with the organization) leaped into action and offered to help.
Financial and spiritual generosity are things folks from the Jefferson City-area have come to expect from their neighbors, Cole County Presiding Commissioner Sam Bushman said.
No injuries were reported when the early morning Oct. 28 fire destroyed the playground at Central Missouri Foster Care and Adoption Association (CMFCAA), 809 Swifts Highway. However, the blaze left the nonprofit with an empty charred-black vacuum where it normally has a safe, enjoyable place for children to play.
Staff at CMFCAA are "super grateful" for the gifts that have poured in following the fire, said DeAnna Alonso, CMFCAA president and founder.
"It's going to take a lot to repair and rebuild," Alonso said. "There are unexpected expenses now. Sod has to be purchased. All the fence has to be taken down."
Bushman said he read about the tragedy in the newspaper and stepped up immediately to offer $5,000 to Alonso.
He said he gives much of his annual salary to worthy charitable causes.
CMFCAA "does so much good with adoptions," he said. "I talked to (Alonso) Wednesday morning, and just said, 'I want to make a donation.' We need to do all we can for children."
There are more than 14,200 children in Missouri's foster care system right now, he pointed out.
"We don't know how fortunate we were growing up, and how fortunate we are to have wonderful memories of growing up," Bushman said. "These children, through no fault of their own, are in less fortunate homes."
Bushman said he has a lot of friends who have adopted. Those friends said the decisions to adopt are among the best they've ever made for themselves.
"I know there are so many young people who deserve to have a good life. I just thought I could help some to do that," he said. "These are strange times."
Former City Councilman Glen Costales said he's been connected with CMFCAA for about six years. Some may remember Costales resigned from the council because of a brother's illness.
After his brother's death, Costales took in three nieces and a nephew. Then-Councilman Carlos Graham, who was on the CMFCAA board, connected Costales with the organization. Staff at the organization walked him through all the processes he faced.
CMFCAA was so helpful, Costales said, and now is a regular donor for the cause. He sponsored a table at the nonprofit's annual gala Thursday night.
And, he donated $2,500 to the organization after the fire.
An anonymous donor matched his gift, Alonso said.
And during the gala, Healthy Blue Missouri gave CMFCAA $50,000, to assist with recovery from the fire but also to help with other expenses.
After hearing about the fire, Rhonda Brown with Healthy Blue reached out to Alonso. Alonso sent her "before" and "after" photos of the playground. Brown said the photos tore at her heart.
The first thing that entered her mind was where children would be when all the adult discussions were ongoing inside the CMFCAA offices. The playground was a place where children could go for a minute during the traumatic times.
She organized staff at Healthy Blue, who were able to pull together $50,000 to donate to CMFCAA.
While presenting Alonso a check at the gala, Brown said it brings her joy to work with CMFCAA.
"Healthy Blue has helped," Alonso said. "They just wanted to bring a sense of normalcy back to the kids."