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Updated: Arsonist Caught - Fire Temporarily Closes GRACE Donation Station

Feb 13, 2015 05:18PM ● By Mike

The GRACE donation station at 112 North Scribner Street was severely damaged in a fire Thursday night. GRACE is calling for volunteers to help in the aftermath. Photo Courtesy of GRACE.

Updated 2/14

Thanks to the help of video surveillance footage and the suspected arsonist himself, fire investigators have caught the suspect involved in the fire at GRACE's Donation Station in Grapevine.  21 year old Zach Benali has been arrested by the police for setting the fire which caused more than $75,000 worth of damage.  

via press release 2/13

GRACE, the local social service agency serving people in need in northeast Tarrant County, experienced a severe fire last night in the Donation Station facility at 112 North Scribner Street in Grapevine.

“No injuries occurred, thank God,” said GRACE Executive Director Shonda Schaefer  “but the damage is overwhelming.” No estimates of the loss are available yet, but the cost will be felt by the people GRACE serves.

“The fire was centered in a large storage unit used to stock clothing for our clients and resale shops,” said Schaefer. “We lost not only all of the clothing in storage, but many of our sorting bins, clothing racks, two staging structures and an equipment shed.”

Donation Station will be closed at least through the weekend so volunteers and staff can assess the full extent of the damage and begin clean-up.

For many people, their first introduction to GRACE was at Donation Station. On any given day, more than a hundred donors drive through with donations of clothing, housewares and other items for GRACE clients. Donation Station is also a popular location for volunteers, especially corporate volunteers and youth groups.

“Donation Station is truly the place where GRACE begins,” said Schaefer. “Our mission statement begins with the words ‘As a steward of God’s blessings and resources in the community’, and Donation Station is where GRACE first receives those resources from generous members of our community.”

Items coming to Donation Station are first sorted for distribution to clients through the GRACE Clothing Room. Housewares and other items for the home are stored for use by GRACE Transitional Housing clients.

Remaining items are sorted and tagged for sale at the GRACE resale stores GRACEful Buys and Style & GRACE. Sales proceeds cover a significant portion of the budget for other GRACE programs and services.

“Nearly one-fourth of our annual budget for Client Services, Food Pantry, Community Clinic, Children’s Services and other programs come from the sales revenues,” said Schaefer. “I’m afraid the impact of the fire will have far-reaching consequences for GRACE and for those we serve.”

A call-for-volunteers has been issued for Saturday and Sunday, February 14 and 15. Work begins at 9 a.m. and will conclude at 4 p.m. Volunteers are asked to dress for after-fire clean- up and bring shovels, brooms and gloves.

For more information contact Heather Ortner at 817-305-4652, or Mark Woolverton at 817- 305-4654. 

FOX 4 News Footage of the fire at GRACE's Donation Station.