by Dave McMinn

As firefighters extinguished the last of the flames, the mood amongst those who had gathered began to change. What started out as shock and curiosity turned into something different once everyone realized that a family’s lives would be immediately changed, and changed forever.

In the North Phoenix community of Fireside at Norterra, a recent house fire left one home uninhabitable. While the family escaped injury, the structural damage from the flames, smoke, and water left them – quite literally – out on the streets. It was in that moment that hearts began to open up. Friends, neighbors, and even total strangers stepped up to assist the homeowners, who were now trying to navigate life away from their home. In the weeks following the fire, there has been a true outpouring of compassion. A GoFundMe page was launched by a resident of a neighboring community to help raise money and provide immediate assistance. People responded with gift of $20, $50…even $100 at a time (At the time this article was published, the donation page had been nearing its $2,000 goal).

An especially heartwarming aspect of this story is that help has been coming from not only the grownups. Even the youngest of neighbors felt compelled to lend a hand. Ashlee, Kylee and Madison, three little girls with big hearts, set up an old-fashioned lemonade stand, donating their proceeds to the victims of the fire. Glass by glass, the girls raised nearly $200 in just a couple of hours (with the lemonade receiving rave reviews). But the generosity from fellow residents did not end there…

On a recent Sunday afternoon, 10-year-old Abby came home from church inspired to help the cause. She and her little brother, Matthew, opted to forgo their normal weekend playtime for an afternoon spent collecting donations from the driveway of their home. Their proud parents, Amanda and Marc, provided the “marketing support” by getting the word out on social media. And it wasn’t just friends who filled the donation box. Money came from unfamiliar faces who saw the online posts and drove over to contribute. By day’s end, Abby and Matthew brought in $685.25! Heartfelt gifts for a worthy cause.

In the midst of turmoil, a family hit with tragedy found themselves surrounded by neighbors who were there not to watch the fire, but to support them. It’s times like this we realize there is much good in the world, and it’s often found right in our own community. This is North Phoenix at its best.

To contribute to the GoFundMe page set up for the family, please go to, and search “Torres Family (Fireside).”