MESQUITE (CBSDFW.COM) – It has been one week since a massive fire destroyed Appleseed Academy in Mesquite. Even though it has been a tough time for parents and staff members, they were celebrating on Wednesday morning. That is because a nearby church offered to help out.
First Baptist Church of Meadowview is providing a space for the daycare, loaning out the back wing of its building for children and staff members. The church has also provided tables and chairs, while folks from across the community have donated toys and books for the kids.
“It’s just overwhelming,” stated teacher Ronda Gassman. “We have worked four days straight to get this back so we could get our kids back, because we’ve missed them so much.”
There were five classrooms ready for children at the church Wednesday morning, from toddlers to first graders. The church’s space was already zoned for a preschool program. “I am incredibly amazed and blessed,” said Barbara Kilpatrick, the owner of Appleseed Academy, “and can’t believe how the community has come to our aid.”
Doors to the daycare’s new facility opened at 7:00 a.m. on Wednesday. It was an emotional reunion, one that parents did not think would come for several months. “Thank goodness it’s all the same people still, so he kind of gets that feeling of being at home,” said parent Clint Hambright.
Appleseed Academy enrolls 125 students, and many returned Wednesday morning. Staff members are hoping that, soon, they will all come back. “She’s been here for three years,” said parent Delia Avila. “So, you can imagine, they’re her caregivers. They take care of her. I go to work and I don’t worry.”
It was only last week that teachers and staff members helped every child escape from the inferno that turned the daycare into a pile of rubble. The building was destroyed, but nobody was hurt. Since then, Kilpatrick said, parents have been helping each other out, staying at home and watching each other’s children until a more permanent solution could be found.
“I remember how I felt standing outside the building and watching it burn to the ground,” Kilpatrick stated. “Less than a week later, to have classes ready for these kids, it’s just unbelievable.”