The Ortegas started the week with a devastating loss. But it ended with them finding how deep the area’s generosity goes.
An accidental fire at the home on South Second Street last Sunday took all of their belongings, including Christmas presents that had yet to be given.
Since then, the community has come out with offers of money, clothes, toys and other needs for the family of three.
“It really is amazing to see all the people that responded and gave kind and encouraging words and donations,” said Jennifer Capone-Orgeta. “Feels really good.”
Friends Jason Smart-El and James Pressley volunteered to collect the variety of donations people have given, from toiletries and clothing to a laptop and an electronic scooter for 7-year-old Bianca.
“It felt so good to see her smiling so big after this long week,” Capone-Ortega said of her youngest child.
The little girl had just starting talking about the sadness of what happened when Smart-El and Pressley showed up with two cars full of donations.
“Seeing them smile, cry and appreciate every single item was an indication of hope and made the whole mission fulfilling,” Pressley said.
“It was a great feeling,” Smart-El said. “The family was very appreciative. I wanted to thank each and every person who donated.”
The list was long, including a $250 Target gift card, brand new sneakers and even a 55-inch television that has not yet been delivered.
The family is currently staying at a motel in Egg Harbor Township, but will soon move into a home in Mays Landing, courtesy of a local doctor who does not want to be named.
“Although the lost everything they cherish, they still have hope because of the community coming together to help them,” Smart-El said.
“James and Jason really are angels,” Capone-Ortega said.
“We could not have made this possible without the overwhelming response we received from the entire community,” Pressley said. “This shows there are still some incredible people with good hearts.”