Fire takes their home, HFA member gives them hope

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HFA members from Jacksonville's Ashley HomeStore deliver mattresses to families displaced by a fire earlier this year.

There wasn’t much time to grab anything – clothes, family photos – even a pair of shoes. When a fire broke out in July at the Calloway Cove Apartment complex in Jacksonville, Fla., residents barely escaped with their lives.

Five children and two adults were injured in the fire. Some of those children are still in the hospital recovering from burns. Two months after nearly a dozen families were displaced, a Home Furnishings Association member is bringing some semblance of normalcy to their lives.

Ashley Furniture HomeStore, which owns stores in northeast Florida and southeast Georgia, donated 26 beds to displaced families. Sixteen children received Jacksonville Jaguar comforter sets.

Tori Fusinaz, director of marketing for Ashley HomeStore, said helping out the victims “was an easy call to make.”

“Some of the kids are still in the hospital recovering from their burns,” she said. “The thought of those kids coming home and having to sleep on a cot or on a couch was not an option.”

Hope to Dream steps in

Ashley employees delivered the beds as part of the company’s Hope to Dream program.

“We just hope it’s something really fun they can enjoy and feel like they’re getting something special to make up with what they’ve been through,” Fusinaz said.

Ashley Furniture Industries started the Hope to Dream program on a national level and has given away more than 90,000 mattresses since 2010. Jacksonville’s Ashley Furniture HomeStore, which owns three franchises, has been one of the company’s biggest supporters. Since taking part in the program eight years ago, the company has donated about 3,000 mattresses to families in need in northeast Florida.

Proceeds from Ashley Furniture HomeStore’s in-store mattress sales help fund a portion of the program with the local store funding the balance. It’s an investment Fusinaz said is worth making. “We think there’s a relationship between our company and our community. We give and help each other. A business should not just sell widgets or, in our case, furniture. It has to go both ways, which is why we love helping out.

“If you’re not giving back,” said Fusinaz, “what’s the point?”

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