LAKESIDE, Calif. - Nearly seven months ago, a fast-moving fire ripped through a Lakeside valley, destroying the home of a family of six and everything they owned inside.
On Wednesday, 10News was contacted by the same church group that was instrumental in helping the family rebuild. Their desire is to help other families this holiday season.
In May, the fast-moving brush fire quickly destroyed everything in its path, including the Bernal family's mobile home.
"I was devastated. I didn't know what to do," Jesus Bernal told 10News on the day of the fire.
As 10News first reported just one day after the fire, the Abundant Life East County Church, just across the street from the Bernals' home, quickly jumped in to help.
"We said we're going to do everything we can," said Pastor Mark Hagan, who is with Abundant Life East County. "They are in our community, so we need to do what we can to help them out. So, we got busy."
The church – and through the generosity of strangers – helped get clothes for the family of six and collected nearly $13,000 in cash for a temporary home and food. The community donated furniture and a larger mobile home a home they have been fixing up, little by little.
"It's just been amazing to watch this transformation that they have gone through," Hagan added.
The church's pastor shared with 10News that it is in their nature to give even when they, too, have fallen on hard times.
Their services are now held out of Anza Elementary School's multi-purpose room. Still, with not much to give, they want to help other families in their community.
It is a lesson Hagan says he learned from his grandfather.
"One of the best things he ever taught me … he says, 'Whenever you are in a tough spot find somebody that is worse off than you and help them out. And then see what happens,'" said Hagan.
Now, his church wants to help out other East County families this holiday season.
“We want to bless them, we want to get them the Christmas tree, all the decorations, the Christmas dinner, and make sure the kids have go toys," he said. "And that's what we are doing right now … is trying to raise money to get that taken care of."
They want to give them something to smile about, just like the Bernal family.