DEPEW, N.Y. -- A drawing in the front hallway reads, "Better to give than receive." For decades, that's exactly what the Depew Boys & Girls Club has done. But now it needs help.
A fire ripped through it New Year's Day and destroyed almost everything inside.
"When I showed up there was smoke coming out of all the windows and it was pretty well engulfed," said Jeff Kupka, Program Director at the club.
Kupka has been a member of the Depew club for 35 years. He spent Wednesday assessing the damage which included tables, chairs, even a Christmas tree all ruined.
To many in the community it's more than just a building, it's where they grew up.
"It's an institution, Kupka said. "If you're a member here or have ever walked through the doors, you understand what I mean."
Kupka says the club serves as many as 100 children a day and hosts after school programs and other events for both kids and adults.
Many of the first responders who helped put the fire out Tuesday also had a personal connection to the club.
"Guys that were in there with fire suits on were members of the club. I saw them coming out and all said hi to me. One guy that came out said he tried to save a couple pictures from the wall in my office and he put it on the desk under a tarp," said Kupka.
The future of the building itself is still being determined, but for the time being the club will use the Lancaster Boys & Girls Club location. The Depew School District is also offering a district building as a temporary home.
The club is hoping to make a comeback and there are several ways to help out. A fundraiser has been set up at www.youcaring.com . You can also find other information at www.depewlancasterbgc.org .
Donations can be made at any Key Bank branch. Just say you want to donate to the Depew Boys and Girls Club fund.
The cause of the fire is not known and is still under investigation.