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On Christmas Eve, an electrical fire started in a fish tank at the East Valley Jewish Community Center, left the facility will plenty of damage. (Photo by Bob McClay)

CHANDLER -- A Valley group is recovering from a fire at its facility in Chandler.

On Christmas Eve, an electrical fire started in a fish tank at the East Valley Jewish Community Center, leaving the facility with plenty of damage.

"That damage caused us to lose the immediate use of eight classrooms, seven offices, our kitchen and a multipurpose room," said executive director Steve Tepper.

The Chandler Fire Department said the blaze was "an electrical fire of an unsuspicious nature."

Tepper said he's amazed by the outpouring of support the EVJCC has received from the community. Both the Chandler Fire and Police departments have delivered boxes of toys to replace those lost in the fire. People of all faiths and walks of life have been dropping off donations.

Tepper said what was lost in the fire isn't the real story.

"It really has become, for us, a story about what we do have," said Tepper. "The support of a community that views us as an important institution and is willing to fight to try to help keep us open and keep these kids in their classroom and learning, being supported, and continuing their development. It's been, for me, awe-inspiring to be a part of."

But the EVJCC could still use help.

"At this stage, if people are able to donate, cash donations or gift cards (from stores such as Wal-Mart, Costco, or a similar store) are really, really helpful to us," said Tepper.

The East Valley Jewish Community Center is located at 908 N. Alma School Road in Chandler, near the intersection of Alma School and Ray roads. The telephone number is (480) 897-0588.

Bob McClay, Reporter

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