Austin firefighter collects donations for family who lost their belongings

- An Austin firefighter saw a family struggling after flames tore through their home and knew he had to help.
               
Isaac Saldivar started asking for donations to help the family and the response was more than he ever imagined.

Friday, Isaac helped put out the fire that caused more than $150,000 in damage at Norma Guardado's home in South Austin.

The day after that fire, he went above and beyond the call of duty.
Bags filled with children's belongings have been pouring into Austin Fire Department Station 24.

“Lots of toys, clothing, books,” said Saldivar.

Isaac had no idea so many people would chip in to help a family they had never met.

“It's good to see that there are still a lot of good people out there that care,” Saldivar said. 

Saldivar couldn't help but ache for Norma Guardado after a fire stole all of her belongings.

“I don't know, something just struck a chord with me. We met with the family the day after and you could just see it start to set in that they no longer had anything,” said Saldivar. 

Norma is raising four grandchildren on her own. Her home was almost a total loss.
               
“Hate to see those little kids, especially with school right around the corner, with nothing. So, you got to do what you got to do to help,” Saldivar said. 
               
What Isaac chose to do was ask his Facebook friends for donations to help the Guardados.

“What turned into something just asking friends and family, now evolved into the whole city asking around and trying to help, which is awesome,” said Saldivar. 

The response was almost overwhelming.

“When I saw it was a grandmother raising her kids and that her whole house burned down and she lost everything, I couldn't imagine how that would be for me or my family,” said Heather Martin who dropped off donations Monday. 

As Norma walked into fire station 24, she learned just how much her neighbors care.

Isaac hopes the Guardado family leaves with even more than a car full of new stuff, but also an understanding that even a small gesture can make a world of difference.

“Maybe there's someone down the street from you, or next to you, or in the same neighborhood that might need help. If you can, go out of your way to help them,” Saldivar said. 

The cause of the fire at Norma’s house is still under investigation.
               
Luckily, she does have insurance on the house and has family she can stay with in South Austin.

Firefighters at station 24 will continue to accept donations for the family.

 

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