An orphanage founded and built by Bakersfield residents eight years ago caught fire Feb. 25, and most of the two-story building housing 44 children and eight staff, was destroyed.
The Send the Light Orphanage in Angeles City, Philippines, is home to children whose parents have died or abandoned or neglected them, founder Mary Clendening of Bakersfield said.
"They would have been dead if we did not rescue them," Clendening said. "They had no hope at all."
The fire is believed to have started from a fan that caught fire and then spread to the building's attic.
Built originally with $160,000 in donations and land from various Bakersfield donors, including Jose Arredondo, it housed boys and girls ages 1 to 17. Most attend private schools.
Send the Light Ministries for the Filipino Children Foundation, a local nonprofit organization, recently built a teen girls' home thathas not been occupied. Until the orphanage is rebuilt, the orphans will stay there.
The building's second floor was destroyed and much of the first floor suffered smoke and water damage. Neither is there running water nor electricity.
Clendening said the children are without bedding, clothes, shoes and other basic necessities.
Rev. Max Van Dyke, vice president of Send the Light Ministries for the Filipino Children, said the organization is asking for community support.
"It boils down to the value of one life. They don't have ability to take care of themselves," Van Dyke said. "Some were living at dumps when we found them and foraging off the dumps for food. It's just decent human kindness and we need to reach out and help."
Donations may be sent to Christ Cathedral Church at 2301 White Lane, Bakersfield, 93304, or to P.O. Box 40622, Bakersfield, CA 93384.