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MEND INUNDATED WITH DONATIONS.

Byline: Rachel Uranga Staff Writer

PACOIMA - Offers of toys, clothing and cash poured in Wednesday to operators of the San Fernando Valley's largest charity, which lost its entire stock of donated items in a fire this week.

Dozens of people dropped off bags of clothes Wednesday at the Pacoima offices of MEND - Meet Each Need with Dignity - while local employers and business groups stepped up to start clothing drives.

``I never thought we would get such a quick response. It's so unbelievable,'' said Lupe Acosta, director of the clothing center.

A fire sparked by an electrical short circuit swept through a storage area at MEND on Monday night and destroyed hundreds of boxes filled with items reserved for the area's poorest.

The fire came just as the agency was launching its holiday campaign drive and was preparing to distribute hundreds of bags of baby and maternity supplies to more than 100 pregnant women. It was all destroyed in the fire.

California State University, Northridge, the Valley Economic Development Center and the Valley Industry and Commerce Association were among local employers asking their workers to donate replacement clothing.

Providence Saint Joseph's Medical Center and Providence Holy Cross have also begun clothing drives, as has Citibank's Arleta branch.

The Annenberg Foundation of Pennsylvania pledged $5,000 to help buy new supplies.

``Our telephones have been ringing off the hook, with calls from businesses, organizations and church groups. It's amazing that Angelenos are so passionate about helping people in crisis, helping people living on the edge, in poverty,'' said Marianne Haver Hill, executive director of MEND.

Councilman Alex Padilla, who held a press conference pleading for donations Wednesday, said the community's swift response was a direct reflection of MEND's enormous influence in the Northeast Valley. In Pacoima, for example, per capita income is $9,133. ``(Donors) know what MEND represents for families trying to make ends meet,'' he said. ``I am not surprised, but I am overjoyed.''

MEND has provided food, clothing, medical and dental care to the area's neediest for more than two decades.

Monday's fire, which caused an estimated $50,000 in damages, closed the agency Wednesday but some medical services are expected to resume this week. It's unclear when classes or dental services will resume.

Rachel Uranga, (818) 713-3741

rachel.uranga(at)dailynews.com

HOW TO HELP

--To donate money or clothing to Meet Each Need with Dignity, or MEND, call (818) 897-2443.

--ONEgeneration also will accept donations at its Mile of Smiles fund- raising walk, 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturday at Balboa Park, between Victory and Burbank boulevards on Balboa Boulevard in Encino.

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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 21, 2004
Words:444
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