A roaring fire was destroying a Lodi uniform supply company earlier this month when even sadder news emerged: A woman and her 7-year-old special needs daughter had been living next door in a former store where the blaze broke out.
Crucita Fatima Sanchez, 44, and Mia escaped unharmed. But they lost everything.
Enter Maria Zito.
The fellow single mom of two didn’t know Sanchez or her daughter, but their plight touched her.
The apparent electrical fire broke out in their kitchen the night of Jan. 2. It spread quickly, eventually destroying the onetime party rental store where they lived, the JDM school uniform company and CCS Car Care Specialties.
“I’ve been down and out,” said Zito, who owns and operates a housecleaning business. “I know what it feels like. So I started a collection for them.”
Zito tapped social media and, before long, was picking up donated essentials during her off hours.
“I ended up collecting everything I could – food, clothes, shoes, blankets,” she said. “The next thing I knew, I collected tons of things. A lot of people in Lodi helped.”
Sanchez has been temporarily staying with her daughter at her son’s home since the Jan. 2 fire.
Zito invited her to her home Sunday.
Sanchez was overwhelmed when she walked in and saw what Zito and many others had done.
“I didn't do this for recognition,” said Zito, who moved to Lodi from Hasbrouck Heights last fall. “I’ve been there and am trying to help this lady.
“Her daughter is getting a new mattress from one of the donors. Fatima needs one, too,” Zito said. “She doesn't have a place yet, but that's the next step.”
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