TINLEY PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- A small fire inside a Tinley Park nonprofit has ruined most of the food and donated items they had planned to distribute for the holidays.
The fire happened Monday morning as the Together We Cope organization was about to kick off their annual Thanksgiving food distribution to families in need.
"Nothing could go out of here. Nothing can come in and that was hard," said Kathryn Straniero, executive director of Together We Cope.
Straneiro arrived to see smoke coming out of the building on Oak Park Avenue and 170th Street as families were showing up to pick up what would have been their Thanksgiving meal.
"It was hard for staff to be turning them away when they're so they're so used to coming here to get it and to tell them no, it was it was very difficult for them," said Mayor Michael Glotz, who is also on the board of Together We Cope.
The nonprofit said the fire started in a sorting room in their resale shop. Sprinklers contained the flames, but left behind extensive smoke and water damage.
"The water kept pouring out pouring out pouring out and unfortunately, everything is soaked," said Straneiro.
The majority of the food will have to be thrown out, along with donated items that were for sale. Turkeys set for distribution were stored outside the building and thankfully saved from the fire.
The building will be closed for at least two weeks as nonprofit leaders work to determine the extent of the damage. But Straneiro said the plan to help the 27 communities they serve will continue.
"We're actually not stopping. You know, we're just reconfiguring.," she said. "We'll be stronger and better because every time something like this happens is that's when we do our best work and we have such great people surrounding us."
If you would like to help or donate to Together We Cope, visit their website.