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Santa Ana soup kitchen badly damaged by fire

December 15, 2009 12:13:36 AM PST
An Orange County soup kitchen that has been serving meals to the needy for 39 years was badly damaged in a fire overnight.Firefighters were called to the Annie Mae Tripp Southwest Community Center and Hospitality Kitchen on the 1600 block of West Second Street at about midnight.

Authorities said no one was at the soup kitchen at the time of the fire, and there were no injuries. There was, however, plenty of damage.

The Hospitality Kitchen has been a staple in the Santa Ana community since 1970. They hold an adopt-a-family program every Christmas and were preparing for the event this weekend, but now they are devastated by the fire.

The bulk of the damage was done to the pantry area and the business area in the back. The fire burned all the food and clothing donations inside and outside the building. The front of the building only suffered smoke damage,

"It's just devastating," said Connie Jones, the soup kitchen's director. "We have 100 senior citizens that were looking to come here Saturday to get all their food and their goodie bags, and we have about 800 kids that were coming to the Christmas party with Santa."

Jones said they were also planning to serve between 50 and 70 homeless people on Christmas.

Volunteer Elsa Alvarado said they feed 300 people breakfast and lunch every day. By 8 a.m. Tuesday, the crowd began to show up only to find the center damaged and closed.

The Mental Health Association of Orange County showed up to shuttle people to the civic center for free breakfast. The soup kitchen also received help from some local furniture rental stores, church groups and Home Depot.

"Things work out, I trust God's going to give me the right direction to do what's right," said Jones.

The soup kitchen serves about 10,000 people a month. If you'd like to donate to the soup kitchen, visit http://swcommunitycenter.org/.


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