Maryland charity that provides birthday parties for homeless kids loses office in arson

A Maryland charity has become the victim of arson.

Extra-ordinary Birthdays provides birthday parties for homeless children.

Their College Park office was destroyed Friday in a fire officials say was set intentionally.

But Schinnell Leake calls Friday morning's fire that destroyed her organization, Extra-ordinary Birthdays, a blessing in disguise.

"From the texts to the prayers. The moment that the word went out, the percentage of people who think there are bigger things on the horizon for us, has really helped me to take that next step," said Schinnell Leake, founder and Executive Director of Extra-ordinary Birthdays.

"We still have parties still to do this month. There are children waiting to be recognized and celebrated," she said.

Community members have also started a GoFundMe page to help support the organization.

Leake returned to the College Park building Saturday morning, her first time surveying the damage since flames destroyed everything in sight.

"We won't be able to be in this space, we don't know when, but it won't be at least for seven to eight months," she said.

Despite the obvious devastation,Extra-ordinary Birthdays says they will rebuild -- better and stronger than ever before, thanks to the community's help.

The organization started three years ago.

"This won't stop us at all. We have a crew of exceptional volunteers and community members and we'll get it together. We have a couple parties planned next week. They are probably already planned because our party planners are that awesome. We don't have any worries for next week. We will discuss about January, but this won't stop the show," said Board of Directors Chair Jolene McNeil.

They have provided countless birthday parties for homeless children who would otherwise go without.

"The message here is you can't stop hope. We're here, we're still smiling through all of this. It's just a building. You can't stop someone's heart. You can't stop someone's love to help children, you can't stop it," said McNeil.

Prince George's County Fire Department says one person was arrested and charged with arson in connection with the College Park fire.

Officials say the suspected arsonist was arrested hours before setting the fire for erratic behavior. The suspect is reportedly related to a worker at nearby mental health center.

More information about Extra-Ordinary Birthdays can be found online.